Health insurance doesn’t need fixing. Oh, really?

The health insurance industry really wants to be reformed. Begging for it, really. I mean, how else do you explain the sheer chutzpah of an insurer jacking up the group premiums for a local township’s employees by 39.1 percent?

Like this cartoon? Click on it for more from Chan Lowe.

Thirty-nine percent! Oh, excuse me, 39.1 percent. And that’s group health, where in theory the risk is spread out over an actuary-friendly group so that the law of averages helps level out costs.

In group health insurance, if Employee A has, say, a child with diabetes or a spouse with cancer, that case is going to be offset by three or four families who make few claims and represent a net plus for the insurer in a given year. That’s how it works. In theory.

Yes, health insurers can be trusted to be fair and reasonable. They want what’s best for you. And if you believe that, I have some lovely lottery tickets guaranteed to be winners. I made them myself.

Seriously, by raising rates so dramatically and so publicly, they’re trying to tell us something: The health system in our country is broken and desperately needs to be fixed. We’re making it so obvious that even Republicans can see this. Please fix us. We’re begging you. Please!

Like this cartoon? Click on it for more from Nick Anderson.*

Those fine folks parroting the talking points, “Don’t mess with my insurance,” might want to take a closer look at what they don’t want messed with. When your costs rise at three times the rate of inflation, on average (or, as in the case with Anthem, MORE THAN TEN TIMES the rate of inflation), something is seriously wrong.

Those are the lucky ones. They have health insurance subsidized in large part by their employers. But the costs are soaring at a rate that even deep-pocketed employers can’t sustain.

It’s gotten so bad that President Obama is proposing new federal restraint on insurance rate increases, as described in the New York Times.

Of course Republicans and their friends in the insurance lobby will continue braying that We don’t want no stinking guvmint messing with our insurance.

Really? Because it works so well?

Here’s a radical concept: Take a look at the plan with an open mind. Think about your needs for health care. Think about others in your family. Think about your friends, co-workers. You probably know someone, somewhere, who has endured unspeakable hardship because of health issues that were either inadequately covered or not covered at all. Think about how you would make things better, and see if at least some of the plan before you goes along with your ideas.

* Disclosure: I’ve known Nick Anderson since “back in the day” when he was a little-known but talented cartoonist at the Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper. Now he’s a talented and rather well-known cartoonist at the Houston Chronicle.  I have no personal connection to Chan Lowe. He draw pretty picture.


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