Tag Archives: competition

Colorado Senate Bill 14-016 a boost to health care cronyism

In the Greeley Tribune, Linda Gorman writes:

Some Colorado legislators have shown impeccable timing in seeking to exacerbate the problem. Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, have introduced Senate Bill 016, which would force the closure of already existing freestanding emergency rooms unless they are owned by a hospital. SB 016 provides an exemption for emergency rooms more than 25 miles from a licensed hospital. Given the geographic structure of the Front Range corridor, however, the practical effect of the bill would be to give hospitals monopoly control of all emergency facilities. …

Colorado’s hospitals are big businesses. As the bill to close competitive emergency rooms shows, they would rather outlaw competitors than outproduce them. Colorado legislators need to remember that handing hospitals a monopoly over freestanding emergency rooms does not serve the best interests of their constituents. It will increase health care costs while reducing health care access, and increase the pain for ordinary citizens already suffering from Obamacare cost increases.

More: Gorman: Senate Bill 016 a boost to health care cronyism in Colorado | GreeleyTribune.com.

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Filed under Colorado health care, regulation

Can Health Care Be Bought and Sold on eBay?

John Goodman writes:

We’re not quite there yet. But there is a new website that is getting close. A small, emerging online service called MediBid is creating an actual market that puts doctors together with patients who need care. Here’s the best thing about it. Patients who use this service can cut their health care costs in half. No, that’s not a misprint. Patients who obtain care through MediBid pay about half as much as BlueCross pays. Ditto for all the major employer plans as well as the other big insurance companies. Patients frequently pay even less than what government pays under Medicare.

Read more: Can Health Care Be Bought and Sold on eBay?

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State regulations force insurers out of market, Obamacare will make it worse

From Grace-Marie Turner at the Galen Institute:

Health plans across the country are leaving the small group and individual health insurance markets, forcing people to find other sources of coverage. In this paper, we provide examples of how millions of people in dozens of states already are being negatively impacted by the law — from New York to Colorado, Virginia to Florida, and Connecticut to Indiana.

The paper provides an overview of carriers leaving the market; the impact of Obama administration rules on the child-only health insurance market; the disruptions caused by rules governing health premium payouts and “grandfathering;” and the threats to the Medicare Advantage market. …

Some insurance carriers are leaving the market because of onerous state regulations, others are victims of a faltering economy, but the cascade has been accelerated by the rules that already have taken effect and the many more that are to come as a result of ObamaCare [HR 3590].

Read more: A Radical Restructuring of Health Insurance, by Grace-Marie Turner Galen Institute.

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Filed under insurance, tax code, HSAs, Policy - National, regulation

Get ready for health insurance slumlords

My latest article at Pajamas Media begins:

If you dislike your health insurer now, just wait until politicians impose price controls that make your insurer act like a slumlord. Expect worse customer service, skimpier plans, and more claim denials.

Price controls on rental properties encourage landlords to become slumlords. Forbidden from making a profit by renting at market rates, to make a living landlords must skimp on quality and service rather than please customers. The same will result from insurance price controls: lousy policies for people with preexisting conditions or for anyone who might get sick.

That is, everyone.

Read the whole article: Get Ready for Health Insurance Slumlords.

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Filed under Policy - National, regulation

Obama coddles insurance companies

Jacon Sullum explains at Reason.com:

“We allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country,” President Obama declared on Monday. “We can’t have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people.”

Yet Obama’s plan to tame health insurers would boost their business, protect them from competition, and guarantee their profits, all at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. It is therefore not surprising that the insurance companies, while they object to the president’s rhetoric and quibble over some of the details, are happy to be domesticated. Here are five ways in which Obama would help insurers while pretending to fight them.

Sullum lists the following:

  • The individual mandate.
  • The employer mandate.
  • Subsidies.
  • Regulations.
  • Limits on competition.

Sullum continues:

As [Obama] himself notes, “they’re going to have 30 million new customers” thanks to the government’s mandates and subsidies. …

… Obama’s plan would use money forcibly extracted from taxpayers and policyholders to keep insurers healthy. He says this arrangement means “insurance companies would finally be held accountable to the American people.”

The collectivist language is telling. I don’t want insurance companies to be “accountable to the American people”; I want them to be accountable to me, as a consumer.

Read the whole article; it’s great: Insurers Gone Wild! Why health insurers welcome Obama’s plan to tame them.

See also ABC news: A Complicated Enemy: Obama Seeks to Vilify Health Insurers, Give Them $336 Billion Check.

(Reason article via the Institute for Health Freedom)

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Michael Bennet’s lame support for “public option” via reconciliation

The Denver Post reports:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is pressing colleagues to use a procedural tool known as reconciliation to pass health-reform legislation — and to include the controversial public-insurance option in the bill. …

“Much of the public identifies a public option as the key component of health care reform — and as the best thing we can do to stand up for regular people against big insurance companies,” said the letter, which so far has garnered signatures from six other Senate Democrats.

As for reconciliation, Michael Tanner of Cato explains it this way:
The last, desperate gasp would be to use an arcane procedure known as reconciliation to pass health care reform with just 51 votes. But doing so would require Senate Democrats to overcome all manner of procedural hurdles. Reconciliation cannot be used for policy as opposed to budgetary issues. That means Democrats would have to drop some of their more popular proposals like the ban on preexisting conditions. They would be left with a bill that did little more than expand Medicaid and other subsidies, raise taxes, and cut Medicare. How popular would that be?
But maybe there’s a way to finagle the rules to pass more through the reconciliation process.  For more details on this, see Keith Hennessey’s two in-depth posts on this issue:

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Filed under Policy - National

Removing insurance anti-trust exemption is misguided

The Denver Business Journal reports:

A recent salvo against the insurance industry came in a missive from U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colorado. From an email her office sent out Monday:

“For too many years the health insurance industry has been allowed to fix prices, collude with each other and wield monopoly control over us without fear of investigation.

“This week I’m introducing a piece of legislation removing the anti-trust exemption from the insurance industry. I’m proud to stand up for the patients against the kind of profiteering the insurance industry has so long enjoyed.”

The Denver Post reported this last week, and I submitted the following letter to the editor:

Instead of scapegoating a narrow antitrust exemption for paltry insurance competition, Representative Betsy Markey should confess to how she and her political allies have prevented competitive insurance markets in the first place.

The Post reports that Markey’s bill would “remove the antitrust exemption now enjoyed by health-insurance companies” (Feb. 5). This is misleading. The exemption, codified by the McCarran-Ferguson Act, applies only to practices constituting “the business of insurance,” that are “regulated by State law” and lack “an agreement to boycott, coerce, or intimidate.” The federal government can already restrict allegedly anti-competitive insurance company practices such as mergers and group boycotts.

Blame politicians for protecting insurers from competition. Because the tax code chains you to our employer’s plans, changing your insurance provider entails changing jobs or paying a stiff tax penalty. Further, politicians forbid consumers from buying more affordable policies available in other states. Repealing these controls would greatly benefit consumers.

For more, see:

Government Accountability Office, Legal Principles Defining the Scope of the Federal Antitrust Exemption for Insurance, March 4, 2005.

Eliminating Antitrust Exemption Will Kill Health Care Competition, Gregory Conko & Kevin Hilferty, Investors Business Daily, Novemer 4 2009,
and a well-referenced report by the same authors: Congressional Misdiagnosis: Why Repealing McCarran-Ferguson Will Harm Competition in Health Insurance Markets.

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