This is kind of neat. I went to ABC to tape an interview for World News with Diane Sawyer last week during the snowstorm, but the piece never aired so I figured it was dead and buried. Turns out they were saving the information for a less rainy day. My part’s on page 2:
Critics Say Insurers Are Dropping Unprofitable Patients
Critics of the companies don’t buy it. “While everyone else seems to be in a recession, the private health insurance companies are making a tremendous amount of money,” said Jackie Schechner, the National Communications Director for Health Care For America Now.
How could that happen? Schechner says the companies essentially get rid of customers who aren’t going to make them any money — old, sick, or high-risk patients. That way, healthy customers are still paying high premiums but the insurance companies have to make fewer big payouts. If that accusation were true, the companies could be in violation of the law.
“They raise rates and companies can’t afford to cover their employees anymore” says Schechner. “People try to go out and get insurance in the private market and it’s just entirely unaffordable for them because the prices of premiums are so high. And if you can get something you can afford and the premiums are low, chances are it’s going to be lousy coverage and it’s not going to actually give you the health care benefits you need.”
Schechner says the answer is health care reform. That’s one point that the critics and insurance companies can agree on. Brad Fluegel of Wellpoint said, “We’re eager to have a fact-based, rational debate about the drivers of these issues and what we can do to fix them.”
The trouble is that the insurance industry and the Obama administration have very different ideas about what that reform should look like.