AMERICA-HATERS IN EXPENSIVE SUITS
Kudos to The New York Times for making this the lead story in today's paper (although I wish it hadn't run on a Saturday, because it reminds us thatordinary Americans and Our Galtian Overlords are playing a zero-sum game -- they win and we lose:
Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care
The nation's major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.
The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the "low level" of medical use.
Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends....
The insurers are just like the big banks. They're just like the oil companies. Our pain is their gain. It's not a paradox -- there's a cause-and-effect relationship.
Read the article. Read about all the people who are postponing needed care because they can't afford it, while inserers' profits soar and insurers demand even more. Then have a bitter chuckle at this:
Significant increases in how much people have to pay for their medical care may prevent a solid [economic] rebound. In recent years, many employers have sharply reduced benefits, while raising deductibles and co-payments so people have to reach deeper into their pockets.
You know what? The insurers don't care whether there's a solid economic rebound -- or maybe it's more accurate to say that they'd prefer a permanent state of recession. I've come to the conclusion that all of big business is just fine with having an economy like this as the new normal. Ordinary Americans' interests and those of the fat cats are now at cross-purposes. Our pain is their recovery.