While many agree that health care reform is necessary, the level of disagreement on the current proposals in Washington is extremely high. Let’s hope that reasonable debate and compromise will lead to a sensible solution.
No matter how that plays out, one aspect that needs to stop is the all-out attack on the insurance industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has made insurance companies the primary culprit. "It’s almost immoral what they are doing," Pelosi told reporters, adding, "Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure. They are the villians. They have been part of the problem in a major way."
President Obama, in discussing the public option for health insurance, said, "We want to keep the insurance industry honest" and that can be done by having a public option that will compete with private insurers.
I understand that many folks don’t like the fact that insurance companies make a profit. Profit in this country, for some unknown reason, has become an evil pursuit. In a recent Fortune magazine ranking of industries, health insurers ranked 35th with a 2.2% profit margin. (The larger numbers cited for earlier in the decade were primarily a result of significant consolidation in the industry).
Let’s face it: Either the employee-based system of using private insurance to provide for our health care needs is a good thing or it’s not. If it’s not, then go to the public plan and be honest with the American people. If it is good, let’s promote an environment that allows insurers the ability to compete and make a profit while holding them accountable to improve administrative efficiencies.
Without the ability to underwrite business, an insurance company can’t make a profit. That ability is what has afforded us the best policy benefits and coverages in the world. It also has resulted in private initiatives between insurers and employers to address some of the system’s runaway costs. Let’s work together to continue to do a better job in that area instead of simply casting blame on insurers.