If you want to understand the extraordinary events taking place in the fight over health care reform, take this advice: follow the money. Massive amounts of cash are flowing into all types of activities aimed at influencing the final outcome. The stakes are high for doctors, hospitals, drug companies, nursing homes, and a host of other industries. But no industry has as much to gain or lose as private, for-profit health insurance companies.
It is impossible to justify a reform proposal that demands sacrifices from all components of the health care delivery system and simultaneously allows the kinds of excesses that have become commonplace in the insurance industry to continue. If the United States wishes to gain control over the rampant inflation in health care costs that is destroying businesses, bankrupting individuals, and wrecking havoc with state and federal budgets, it cannot leave an industry that has contributed so much to the escalation of health care costs in an even stronger position to expand margins at the expense of health care providers, employers, and individuals.
That is currently the goal of the health insurance industry and they have made remarkable progress toward that goal given the quality of the case they have to argue. If Congress cannot agree on a public option they must find some other method of protecting American consumers and employers from the costly and predatory practices of the health insurance industry. One would be a cap on the medical loss ratio.
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