The Daily Walk of Shame: "Unbiased" Health-Care Report

This new Motley Fool series examines things that just aren't right in the world of finance and investing. Here's what's got us riled today. If something's bugging you, too -- and we suspect it is -- go ahead and unload in the comments section below.

Today's subject: One day before a critical vote was to occur in the Senate committee on health-care insurance reform legislation, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report warning of increased family premiums and an overall increase in health-care costs if comprehensive health-care legislation was passed. The report, paid for by the industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), is intended for circulation on Capitol Hill and will also be promoted in new advertisements. Karen Ignagni, AHIP's President and CEO, said "between 2010 and 2019 the cumulative increases in the cost of a typical family policy under this reform proposal will be approximately $20,700 more than it would be under the current system."

This all comes out despite a report released last week by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stating that the legislation in question would reduce the federal deficit by $81 million by 2019 and would probably extend coverage to about 29 million Americans who currently lack insurance.

Why you should be indignant: Where to begin? There are at least three very good reasons to be apprehensive of PwC's report.

  1. Because the report is commissioned by AHIP, a group that represents health policies from companies like Aetna (NYSE: AET  ) , Aflac (NYSE: AFL  ) , and Humana (NYSE: HUM  ) , PwC should have been extra careful to dispel any apparent conflicts of interest. However, instead of performing tremendous due diligence, PwC seemed to have produced a report with too many holes to poke through and too much room left to be guessing about the legitimacy of their work.
  2. It is possible that PwC was not aware when AHIP was going to release their report. However, the fact that it was unveiled one day before a critical Senate committee vote seems to be suspicious at best, and politically motivated at worst. Officials of the Obama administration questioned the timing and authorship of the report.
  3. John Gruber, a health-care economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he evaluated the report the day after its release and found it deeply flawed. Among the problems with PwC's analysis, Gruber highlighted:

    a. The report fails to take into account administrative overhead costs that he said will "fall enormously" once insurance policies are sold through new government-regulated exchanges.
    b. It also fails to consider government subsidies that would be provided to help moderate-income American's purchase insurance.
    c. It reaches the opposite conclusion as Gruber, who says that premiums would actually decline for individuals and families purchasing insurance, with or without government subsidies.

The bottom line: Gruber says "If you literally take the data from the CBO, you can see that individuals will be saving money in a nongroup market."

What now? Well, you can choose to believe PwC's report, or you can choose not to. Before you reach any conclusion, consider this: In the early 1990s, PwC performed similar studies for the tobacco industry, which included bigwigs like Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM  ) (then part of Altria) and Reynolds American (NYSE: RAI  ) . They provided supposedly hard data that showed how a new excise tax on tobacco would destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The report was apparently so lopsided that another consulting firm, Arthur Andersen, reviewed PwC's work. They found "serious methodological problems and errors of omission (one-sided analyses likely to lead to misinterpretation) in both the PW Report and the [tobacco industry's Tobacco Institute] Estimates." Ultimately, the string of blunders made by PwC led Andersen to report that "these and other serious flaws in the Price Waterhouse Report and the Tobacco Institute Estimates build upon one another in a cumulative fashion to present grossly exaggerated and misleading estimates of job loss from an increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco products."

There are some eerie similarities here considering that one of the methods considered for funding health-care reform is a tax on some very expensive "Cadillac" health-care plans. Looks to me like another case of lobbyists hiring consulting groups to find data that supports their claims instead of performing a comprehensive, objective analysis.

This report has conflict of interest written all over it. Ill-timed. Factually debatable. Contrary to reports by the CBO. I'm not buying one word of it.

Put aside the crazy town hall meeting thoughts on health-care reform for one moment and let me know -- what do you think about the PwC health insurance industry report?

Fool contributor Jordan DiPietro does not own shares of any companies mentioned. Aflac is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Phillip Morris is a Global Gains selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy with no conflict of interests and that releases information in a timely manner.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 10:05 AM, weiwentg wrote:

    I'm not sure I buy all of Gruber's conclusions 100%. The exchanges are likely, but not certain, to introduce a degree of competition into the market for individual insurance. This will pressure costs down somewhat. Administrative costs are very high in the individual market; after reform, they should fall in the long run, but they will take some time to do so.

    Nonetheless, it does seem that AHIP instructed PwC only to focus on certain aspects of health reform. The big thing in the Finance bill that has potential to push costs down is the excise tax on expensive insurance plans. It should get people to switch to cheaper plans, especially at the high end, in the long run. However, PwC didn't estimate any effect, possibly because they don't have the data to do so. The Congressional Budget Office would have published an estimate in their reports. The Urban Institute (a think tank) and the Lewin Group (a consulting firm owned by United Health) have previously published estimates for a similar cap. CBO and Lewin think that a cap will drive costs down in the long run; I believe Urban doesn't think we can say for sure. In either case, the tax exclusion for health insurance is poorly targeted, because it benefits those with high marginal tax rates much more than those with low tax rates.

    Another thing is that the Finance bill will set minimum standards for insurance. For example, policies must have an actuarial value of 65%, meaning that the policies will cover an average of 65% of your medical expenses. That's not very high; I think that good employer sponsored policies cover something like 75-90% of medical expenses on average. However, the average individual policy today probably covers a lot less than 65% of average expenses. So, you'll have to pay more, but you'll be getting more, and you'll be reasonably certain what you're getting.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 11:26 AM, OkpulotTaha wrote:

    Appears there are some questionable projections in the Price Waterhouse Coopers report and this appears there are questionable projections in the Congressional Budget Office report. Clearly neither report can be fully trusted nor should be.

    This is certain. Individual cost for a personal health care plan will skyrocket under our current system and under the Obama sponsored system.

    My personal opinion is the Obama scheme will inflict much higher costs than our current private enterprise system, and inflict lower quality actual health care. This Obama system includes many poorly concealed backdoor taxes and there will be costs of taxpayer money diverted from other public services to health care subsidies; less government services at a higher cost.

    This Obama plan has no provisions for cost control. This Obama plan does have provisions for increased taxes for all Americans, poor to rich. We know a federally managed health care plan will be slow, cumbersome and present a wall of red tape; approval for medical treatment could take months.

    Easy to surmise a government sponsored plan will have many workers off the job while waiting for approval for medical treatment of a disabling health problem. Some will be denied wages, productivity will be lessened leading to a slowing of our economy and will drive many people back to private enterprise health plans for less hassle and quicker service.

    Another problem is a government plan is ripe for abuse by politicians, by special interest groups and by welfare gamers. We know there will be widespread abuse and fraud within a government plan system.

    A certainty is we can never trust our federal government to be truthful with us. Giving trust to our governments, from municipal to state to federal, would not make Motley Fools of us, this would simply make fools of us all.

    Okpulot Taha

    Choctaw Nation

    Puma Politics

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 11:42 AM, LDSGJA wrote:

    My problem with the health bill - the one by the Senate Finance committee which doesn't even have a public option- is that it claims to reduce the deficit over the next 10 years by 80billion or so, but the plan wont go into effect until 2013 or 2014 but increased taxes for it will start now. So you have 6 years of benefits and 10 years of taxes and yay! it doesn't add to the deficit!

    It also makes cuts to Medicare, which most conservatives argue will probably be undone in the long run. Whether that is true or not I cannot say, but they wouldn't matter if Bush hadn't given everyone on Medicare free pills anyways.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 11:54 AM, ACitizen wrote:

    I don't know who to believe. I suspect that the PwC report was written to support the Insurer's claims but I don't believe what I hear from the administration or the legislators writing the healthcare bill either. It totally defies logic that by insuring more people, some of which already have costly medical problems, that we are going to REDUCE the cost of coverage. The healthcare system is not being reformed; just look at all the holes in this thing. Med malpractice isn't addressed, illegals are covered by defalut and loopholes. I guess I am tainted by observing how the government works for 50 some years, I'm 65. I know anything run by the government is inefficient, bureaucratic and run by bureaucratic toadies. I offer as examples Social Security, Medicare, the Post Office, Food and Drug Administration, etc. etc. Ever try to work with one of these organizations; it is like trying to deal with mental zombies. Every one of these organizations began with the best of intentions and have morphed into huge, lumbering, overstaffed, inefficient, BANKRUPT agencies that cost the taxpayer billions. Please note I said the taxpayer, you know the guy that files a 1040 and pays into the system every year (and by the way he is only a small portion of our society). When does all this government wonderfullness get so burdensome that those that now pay the bill can no longer pay the bill?

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 11:55 AM, enjoylife wrote:

    From the article above, the CBO estimates an $81 million reduction in the federal deficit by 2019 due to enacting the legislation. If this is the total over 9 years that is $9 million/year on average. Can the CBO really estimate to this level of accuracy? I question how strong anyone can really support the CBO conclusion that there will be a savings given the realtively small savings and the much larger unknowns.

    For perspective, the national deficit is increasing at almost $4 billion/day (over the past 2 years).

    I am behind extending insurance benefits to those who lack insurance. My concern is how we do it.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 12:53 PM, OkpulotTaha wrote:

    A Citizen comments, "I don't know who to believe."

    Simple and succinct. Good job!

    I do not believe industry reports, I do not believe government reports, I do not believe any of those boys.

    All of you, at least once, have experienced a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) encounter. When I visit a DMV to take care of business, I struggle hard to not jump across a counter then pinch an employee's head clean off.

    Same urge hits me when I work with my health care insurance company.

    There is some recourse against a public insurance company. There is no recourse against a government office. I can haggle with my HMO and sometimes actually win. Should I haggle with the DMV I will be buried under two tons of paperwork which only leads to frustration.

    An example of how government works. California has a new law against driving and cell phoning. Imposed fine stated is $20 under this law. When you pay your fine you discover the fine is $120 to $220 depending on where you live; additional fees are tagged on along the way.

    I am quite certain this will happen with government sponsored health care; costs stated are only a fraction of actual costs....

    ...and there is that two tons of paperwork.

    "I don't know who to believe."

    Okpulot Taha

    Choctaw Nation

    Puma Politics

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 12:55 PM, mlaursen wrote:

    I don't know about the AHIP report, but to quote the CBO report without mentioning all their caveats about the fragility of the projections (i.e. Congress would have to pass the exact legislation they analyzed, make Medicare changes exactly as promised) is to mislead readers.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 1:07 PM, shoppingjamz wrote:

    Insurance premiums rise because health care costs (charges from doctors, hospitals, Rx, etc) are rising. Not the other way around.

    AHIP (those that sponsored the PWC report) are in favor of health care reform. Think about it, why wouldn't insurance companies want more paying members?

    AHIP objects to the current "reform" proposal because it does nothing to address rising health care costs. Providing coverage to everyone is a great thing but it if the cost of a surgery is 10% more this year than last year, insurance premiums will go up.

    AHIP is on the offensive because our illustrious politicians have turned health “care” reform into health “insurance” reform Apparently they feel the insurance companies are easy targets. Their political gain is our loss. Health care costs will continue rise as they have for the last 20 or so years.

    Those that think taxes and fees on insurance plans will pay for expanded coverage, think again. That is not new money – it’s your money. Taxes and fees on insurance companies are just pass through costs that will be reflected in the premiums you and I pay (aka hidden tax).

    Whose financial projections should you believe? Those developed by persons with absolutely no accountability for achieving those results or those from people who make a living by managing those kinds of numbers on a day to day basis?

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 1:23 PM, Maraith wrote:

    Overutilization seems to be the culprit for much of the health care cost increases, not the supposed greed of the insurance companies. Greed of physicians who have become businessmen/women - yes. Capping medical malpractice suits in Texas has dropped the number of suits filed but not the cost of health care. Interesting, huh?

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 1:26 PM, plange01 wrote:

    obama spent about a week slapping together his healthcare plan then tried to quickly dump it on the public.the US is now over 10 months into a depression with over 20% of the workforce unemployed.our so called president is more interested in getting on letterman and being a small time celebrity than working on the growing problems facing the country

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 1:29 PM, TMFBiologyFool wrote:

    I don't see how the cost to the government (CBO's projections) has anything to do with cost to individuals with private insurance (PwC projections). The government has been shifting costs from Medicare to private insurers for years by paying doctors less for Medicare patients. The doctor has to get paid a certain amount per patients and thus require higher payments from private insurers.

    That being said, the PwC projections only take into account some of the aspects of the bill, so the numbers are essentially useless except to see what affect that portion of the bill will have on private health insurance costs.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 1:34 PM, eddietheinvestor wrote:

    The CBO was a nonpartisan organization that a few months ago delivered a report highly skeptical of Obama's and Congress' analysis of the cost of the health care bill. Then Obama summoned the leader of the CBO to the White House (usually the CBO members don't go there because they are supposed to be independent), most probably for a tongue lashing. Ever since the CBO estimates are more in line with what Obama and Congress want the CBO to say. So is the CBO still nonpartisan? Just wondering.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 1:59 PM, eddietheinvestor wrote:

    But I do want to add, in order to be fair, that the Price Waterhouse report is also biased, and the timing is questionable. I just wish that Democrats and Republicans can get together and compromise, having meetings in a public while setting apart their differences and working together for the public good.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 2:55 PM, sls51 wrote:

    For months now I have read thousands of postings, comments and so-called expert opinions regarding the healthcare bill(s) and financial ranglings being circulated and fought over in Congress. The only "truth" that I have gained is that we have allowed (no matter your political lean) our country to be hi-jacked by politicians and their inner circle minions. Somehow, the people of this country continue to argue and snap at each other like small dogs while our country falls into destruction. While we argue and disagree, the elite 500+ set by, amused (I'm sure) and await their spoils. I ramble, but see no possible good ending to over 12 Trillion in debt, collapsing dollar, and never-ending printing of paper dollars to "pay" our way out of the mess we are in. WHY don't I ever see anyone demanding that each of us receive the SAME health care benefits that the 500+ are going to receive for the rest of their lives? Wake up Americans -- Hope we are not too late.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 3:20 PM, 7722 wrote:

    I don't believe either side. What I do know is that $80billion in savings is meaningless compared to the $12 trillion in debt we are faced with.

    What I do know as a NY resident who makes just over 100K and pays much more than 50% of that in taxes when you add up FICA, Medicare, Fed and state withholding, sales tax, real estate and school taxes surcharges on utilities etc. that the cost of my health insurance is not the problem. If most people did not have such a heavy tax burden the cost of health insurance would not be a problem.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 3:20 PM, TexasLonghorns wrote:

    Bad report/Good report... I don't know and I don't think anyone knows how this is going to affect us. In the end tell me of ONE THING the Federal Government runs that isn't a DEBACLE of bad management and throwing tax dollars down unknown rabbit holes. See Medicaid and Social Security.

    I'd rather dance with the devil I know rather than go on ......trust me, I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 4:25 PM, charlieone7 wrote:

    How can anybody be so sure about anything concerning something as abstract and complicated as healthcare reform. I don't care what anybody says on either side of the issue, nothing is certain, everybody has an opinion. All I can say for certain is, I don't trust the government.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 4:44 PM, jtgio wrote:

    The only real solution for real healthcare reform from both an economic and moral position is single payer health care. There are 2 national physician groups fighting for it, and who knows the realities of our current broken system better than the practitioners. Check out these 2 web sites:

    1) Physicians for a National Health Program

    (www.pnhp.org)

    2) MadAsHellDoctors.org.

    Also, check out and consider supporting HR 676 (the Kucinich Amendment allowing states to create their own single-payer systems), the Weiner Amendment (Medicare For All) to HR 3200, and the Senate version of the single-payer bill sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the American Health Security Act of 2009.

    Health care is a human right, not a privilege. There is plenty of profit to be made by investors in other sectors of the economy (how about green/clean energy investments, anyone?). For the health insurance industry to profit by denying or rationing care, as they've been doing all along, resulting in the physical, emotional, and financial suffering of their customers is a national disgrace we should all be ashamed of.

    This isn't socialism; it's a matter of human decency and doing the right thing by reorganizing our national priorities. The Kucinich & Weiner amendments explain the efficiencies and cost savings that would result from single-payer health care. The only "problem" is that health insurance CEOs would no longer be making billions off the sickness & suffering of others, and billions of our tax dollars wouldn't be going to further subsidize their greed. I say this is EXACTLY the Rx we need for what's ailing us.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 4:46 PM, JustEconist wrote:

    If we don't learn our history, we're doomed to repeat it.

    And the history tells us that when rating and evaluating gives us wrong and misleading information disasters and catastrophes are the results. DID WE (THE SYSTEM) learn from the collapse of the financial systems? Were those rating agencies (Moody's and the like) who provided misleading and false rating suffered the consequences? The short answer is no and that is why PWH is doing it to us (US!) without fearing consequences.

    ACCORDING TO NEWSWEEK:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/216486

    "In testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, a former Moody's managing director, Eric Kolchinsky, alleged that the firm was criminally deceiving investors by purportedly inflating ratings on securities even into the current year, long after the subprime scam had been exposed and the market crash had occurred. Richard Cantor, the firm's chief risk officer, dismissed the allegation as "without merit" at the hearing, but allowed that Moody's did "not give a high grade" to its own performance."

    The question is: Why those who have and are benefiting from the system are doing the most harm to it? Is it stupidity? Immorality? PWT and their cohort actions have tragic consequences that causes death of tens of thousands of people every year.

    ACCORDING TO SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/60-second-science/pos...

    "Lack of insurance causes more than 44,000 U.S. deaths annually, study says"

    The question is not: which one , government or big business we should trust. The question is how to make the rule of law work and how to makes laws which protects the right of people and how to keep POWER in check since as George said:

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    (and he wasn't talking about government power only)

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 5:16 PM, gdf55 wrote:

    Even with a state employer-subsidized health care plan, our costs for all health-care expenses have increased much more rapidly than the rate of inflation, especially in the past 5 years. I don't have to read reports to know how the current system impacts our household budget.

    I'm hopeful, then, that one outcome of a health-care bill will be increased scrutiny of the real cost of health care and the likelihood that there will be some effort to rein in fees, especially for known, standard expenses like physicals, prescriptions, primary physician visits, trips to the ER, etc.

    The insurance/HMO business has been, to date, more like a monopoly than free enterprise. There isn't really that much competition in local markets. I'd like to see a more level playing field.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 6:33 PM, WyattJunker wrote:

    I say they should pass this bill.

    Once they do I will immediately divest most of my investments in the US and apportion a new skewed allocation re-balance to international companies only. You can say that a lot of big US companies are multi-nationals, sure, you can say that, BUT in the end, which government do they pay taxes to? That's right. Uncle Scam.

    So, I will go to countries that know how to preserve, respect and protect capital and load up on ADRs. I will also throw some in Jeffries' new CRBQ fund and maybe pick up a boatload of TBT along the way.

    Who knows? I might even move out of the country entirely.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 8:45 PM, xetn wrote:

    I don't know who or what numbers to believe. I only know that every single government forecast of costs are grossly underestimated. I suspect the main reason is that once a bill becomes law, it is constantly added to include all of the things that were left out to get it passed in the first place. So, don't assume that ObamaCare will look anything like what is being planned in another 2 years. And it will cost a great deal more. Also, since all health care is a scarce resource, you can be assured that services will be scaled back. Once health care becomes "free" its use will increase to the breaking point.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 8:48 PM, glenby52 wrote:

    A health insurance plan that the originators won't join? What else do you need to know or understand?

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 9:09 PM, mryansmith37 wrote:

    How can you trust any entity that can't run a house of ill repute and sell liquor to run a healthcare system??? (The Mustang Ranch, in NV went bankrupt and the feds took it over, and failed in its operation. They sold it a year later.)

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 2:50 AM, mlaursen wrote:

    re: "If most people did not have such a heavy tax burden the cost of health insurance would not be a problem."

    Truth that. Here's the bottom line on health care. Pretty much everybody is going to get old and WILL have health problems, and eventually die of something.

    That is not a situation that insurance can solve. Health insurance is only useful for the atypical case of getting seriously ill before one gets old.

    To deal with old age, one needs to be able to accumulate some wealth over one's life time. Hard to do when your wealth is continually being drained away.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 4:35 AM, mizzensheet wrote:

    Jordon, the cbo can tell you In a wild flying guess with the numbers that they have today what will happen in the fed budget ( probably ). For me the really sad part of this is that no one will own-up to the things that this reckles bunch of regulation is going to increase the already to high medical cost in this country. When you look at what these shysters are doing with hidden taxes, penalties ( payed to the fed ), fines ( payed to the fed ) and and regulation that will seriously limit the profitabilty of doctor and insruers it lets you understand why the cbo can come up with such pleasant numbers. So the cbo should also how baddly this avenue is going to hamper our medical system from delivering any where close to the high quality of service that they do now. That said all of this is only a small thing compared to the devastation , though this white house White paper on regulation, that they are planning to lay on our curency. I have no way from where I am to tell whether this is engendered by malice or some incridibal ignorance. We seem to have elected people with a bent on ridding our country of all that our founding father set in motion two hundred and fifty years ago. Andy

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 9:58 AM, kgeechee wrote:

    I know "who" not to believe; any person or group that claims Sovereignty as a 'nation' while existing within the US borders and availing themselves to ALL the protections, policies and payments of the US while claiming tax protection for vast sums of money earned on 'sovereign lands'.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 10:23 AM, MrSuspicious wrote:

    I never believe what the government says. I don't believe any report funded by a group who has a vested interest in its conclusions.

    I do believe in making conclusions based on prior actions. Thinking about how insurance companies treat their customers, its not hard to see that, if they're forced to insure people that they don't want to insure (due to existing conditions) that premiums for everyone will skyrocket.

    Think about how credit card companies jacked rates and cut available credit right before new credit card regulations went into effect. It seems logical that a similar thing will happen with insurance companies. And I don't need a report from anybody to tell me that!

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 10:41 AM, NorthCarolinaKen wrote:

    Strangely enough, what all parties are doing is ignoring the fundamental issue: an insurance indemnity that is escalating in unpredictable ways.

    A comparison with life insurance makes the issue very clear. All of us will eventually die but the question of interest is when. We need to protect our families in case we die while our families are still dependent on our incomes. To protect our dependents, we all put money into a risk pool. That money does not go into the pockets of the insurance companies, they are just the guardians and bookkeepers. However, they are free to invest that pool and the proceeds, less a buffer pool, become the companies' earnings. The amount of money each of us puts into the pools is determined by actuarial statistics, the mean probability of death at any point in time of all the members of the pool. This is the indemnity of life insurance. It happens that the life insurance companies are enjoying an enormous windfall. All of us are living longer which pushes out the mean and allows the insurance companies to invest more for a longer period of time.

    In spite of what I see as demagoguery, that the health insurance companies are ripping off the public with windfall profits, the very opposite is true. Health insurance is a very bad business fundamentally to be in. The indemnity, the claims against the health pools, is escalating at an enormous rate and in unpredictable ways. A good part of the problem belongs to the insured. We tend to see health insurance as a benefit rather than a protection against catastrophe and we spend it with little regards to the cost. This illusion is reinforced by the fact that our participation is automatic rather than passing through our wallets. We never see the money and we tend to lose consciousness of it. Other parts of the issue are the lack of competition. Lasik eye surgery is an interesting exception. Competition is fierce and outcomes are excellent. The fundamental reason is that it is descretionary and patients make comparisons and hard choices both in terms of providers and costs. Finally, there is a goodness component in that the industry keeps coming up with new drugs and procedures that add to options and horizontal expense increments as well as better outcomes and vertical expense increases.

    The issue is the indemnity. The reason we have things like "pre-existing conditions" is not due to evil insurance companies but rather desperate attempts to control in indemnity. The escalation of costs has nothing to do with insurance companies. The exception of an insurance monopoly in Connecticut is an anomaly. Beating up on the insurance companies is a very misguided distraction.

    Massachusetts has the fundamental solution which has turned out to be at least partially successful. I am far from an apologist for the state by the way, having lived there, but it is hard to argue with success. They played the statistics to their advantage. 90% of the population was already insured which left a 10% problem. Over 60% of the uninsured were working but for companies that did not extend the benefit, the Wal-Marts and small businesses. A small portion of the remainder were the healthy who were gambling that they wouldn't need insurance and the rest the indigent. There was obviously no need for a massive bureaucracy to fix a 5% problem so the state funded a risk pool and used the insurance companies to administer it much like a large private company does. Making health insurance mandatory fixed the rest of the coverage problem. All businesses had to raise prices to cover the benefit so there no longer was a competitive disadvantage to offering it.

    What Massachusetts did not address is the indemnity issue. The tort issue complaint from right has merit but it is a small part of the problem, less than 5% or so. Tort reform needs to be part of a larger initiative to expose the efficacy, costs and competency of drugs, procedures, hospitals and doctors. The bad players need to be eliminated and the lawyers will mostly disappear. Caps to install some level of sanity in court awards should finish issue. The final part of the solution is to not maintain the individual contribution as an invisible deduction but to run it through our wallets. Ultimately, the solution is for the recipients of healthcare to make intelligent choices between providers, costs and outcomes. Given that, with our innovation, we will go from one of the worst healthcare systems in the world to the best.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 11:12 AM, gulfsailor wrote:

    In the long run we are all dead.

    Current Health Care Insurance violates the insurance principle. It covers many small expenses and limits the large ones. Get the insurance companies out by paying you own bill. However, althought charges are the same the discount is not. Private payers pay top dollar unless you have a reasonable physician to neogiate with. i.e. When we were uninsured and my wife, a cancer survivor, need a check up I said offer to pay upfront what the Blues pay. The response from the MD's office was, "We will loose money." So much for private pay.

    In hospitals and much of health care costs and charges are unrelated. The government set the base price (charge) through it's allowed fee schedule i.e. Medicare and what percentage it will pay i.e. 25% and then only pays about 80%. I don't know how the doctors make any money, to comply with the regulation, let alone pay off the student loans for medical school. The same for Medicare, the program for those who can't afford to pay for health care (hey wait a minute we already have a program for the "un-insured")

    I doubt that 10 years of taxation and fees will pay for 6 years of program.

    Solution, require congress to have the same plan the rest of us have. National Health Service line up here. ;-)

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 12:45 PM, JNaughton wrote:

    Any time someone with a stake in an issue generates a report, there is a "conflict of interest." So what?

    Here's the question -- will premiums go up as the government finishes nationalizing the health system, as AHIP asserts?

    Here's what I consider the pertinent facts:

    The AHIP hadn't said "boo" up until this point because the proposals as presented had large tax penalties for individuals who didn't have insurance. This changed the economic calculus for healthy young people.

    [Without these penalties, purchasing standard health insurance is a dumb idea from an economic standpoint. They probably aren't going to incur a major health expense. If they do -- major accident, cancer, etc., this is America -- they're going to get treated anyway. They generally have no assets (savings, home equity, etc) that they need to protect, so the smartest thing is to go "naked" on insurance, pay for small expenses, and declare bankruptcy if they lose the "I'll be healthy forever" bet.

    Of course, major medical insurance with an accompanying MSA would solve most of the health care crisis, and is especially smart for young healthy people, so those are being outlawed.]

    With high tax penalties, all of those young, healthy, claims-free folks would be highly inclined to now purchase health insurance (better something for $2500 instead of nothing for $2500), which would actuarially subsidize all of us old fat people. Whoopee! Naturally, all of that money wasn't going to help reduce our premiums. A good part of the increased business could be devoted to profits and bonuses. Double whoopee! As part of the bargain, they kept their mouths shut throughout the debate, and even decided it was worth allowing pre-existing conditions.

    It's like if a casualty insurance company agreed to write insurance for someone whose house was already on fire if the government would force a couple of hundred people with new homes to buy insurance that didn't want it.

    The idea of actually making anyone pay for something, however, isn't by God how people get elected to Congress! So, the language was changed to greatly reduce the penalties.

    Without any of us having to commission overpriced consultants, what's econ 101 tell us will happen to demand for something (unneeded insurance @ $2500/yr) when the price of a substitute drops (same access to health care for maybe a $1000 tax penalty). If you guessed the demand will drop because lots of young healthy people would substitute a $1000 tax penalty for $2500 insurance, CONGRATULATIONS! See -- this stuff is easy.

    So, the companies AHIP represents were no longer looking at the benefits of hundreds of thousands of perfectly healthy young people being coerced into becoming customers; but they were going to be on the hook for all of the pre-existing coverage they'd rolled over for. Whoops.

    Bottom line, if you even get a little bit of economics, you don't have to decide whether to believe the insurance companies or the government. Premiums will have to go up if healthy people aren't severely penalized while we add unhealthy people to the pool.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 12:56 PM, exileonmainst wrote:

    In my opinion, people knocking the need for health care reform are living in dreamland. Either they are wealthy enough to afford the finest care without the many, many rules, restrictions, co-payments and other artful dodges of the health insurance industry or are healthy enough not to have to experience the cumbersome and bloated bureaucracy that health care has become in this country.

    What really surprises me is that by opening up the market to provide health care coverage with a system where everybody must be covered and offering more choices to people so they can comply with this requirement, competition is bound to be promoted as companies seek to achieve economies of scale . Overhead costs would be lower as companies would spend less time folding, bending, spindling and mutilating paperwork designed to bambozzle their customers and providers from actually using their coverage when needed.

    Furthermore, knock-on effects of such change would also positively alter other aspects of health care including how doctors and hospitals work through reduced paperwork and increased networking, standardization of health care record keeping and greater promotion of healthy life-style management.

    Aspects I'd like to see included (and here I'm in dreamland) include:

    1. Tort reform to reduce and control the cost of malpractice insurance.

    2. Increased taxes on those things that without question promote bad health including tobacco, gasoline and sugar.

    3. Less emphasis by medical practioners on prescribing over-priced and marginally effective drugs.

    4. Put all members of Congress and the many state assemblies and all senior executives of the judicial and executive branches of the federal and state governments on Medicare. They need to eat their own cooking.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 4:20 PM, rolandstoan wrote:

    Many people here have made some very interesting points and more than a few have been right on. Obviously some have been a bit silly and are mostly rants that are far too focused on who deserves the all the blame. I agree that government, politicians that will do, say or sign onto any legislation, even without reading it and feeding their campaign war chests with special interest funds to get reelected or becoming lobbyists for the same special interests groups if they don't, bureaucrats making ridiculous rules to justify their jobs and power, some of the insurance companies, big pharma, health care facilities, attorneys, abusive insurance recipients, along with a few others including some of the named above that have learned to game the system by committing some degree of fraud by either collecting too much money via abusive billing practices or simply not paying for health care services even if they could afford to by running to the ER where they have to be treated by law.

    I've spoken with attorneys that claim that they have had to raise their fees and hourly rates due to not being able to collect almost half of what they bill out. Does that mean they'd lower their fees and rates if everybody paid? I wonder. Hospitals claim they have to raise their fees and rates for the same reason. Doctors complain about not being paid nearly well enough by Medicare and some HMO's on top of having to pay exorbitant malpractice insurance fees. They also complain about having to constantly get approval from the insurance carriers for various treatments, procedures and meds they want to prescribe that are all too frequently denied that often force them to figure annoying workarounds to administer proper care. All this has to be accomplished by maintaining a rather expensive staff of people devoted to coding, filing and submitting the paperwork to third party providers and then sometimes waiting months to get paid while occasionally having to tap into lines of credit to keep it all running.

    Obviously, at least some of this should be and can be brought under control. There are so many hidden costs in health care expenses it's almost impossible to fathom where you'd begin and where real reform can take place.

    I think government could lend some assistance to accomplishing a few of the problems by presenting some accurate information regarding where all the money comes from that pays for indigent health care outside of medicare and how much as a start. One way or another we all pay for this. So in that sense, we're already involved in socialized health care. I would just like some real transparency about these figures before making any more decisions about what kind of reform I'd be inclined to support.

    You're not going to stop everybody from wanting a piece of the pie. But as long as the federal reserve keeps printing more money to make a bigger pie with diluted dollars we're going to have a problem there we can't fix until we start auditing the fed as a start. Get rid of the fed?

    I don't know but I think that would be a good start in determining the amount of abuse that occurring.

    Tort reform? Yes. The Trial Lawyers Assoc. has too much influence there. We could certainly place limits on some of the feeding frenzy that takes place when families and law firms become millionaires because lawyers know how to game the system by cherry picking juries and or blackmailing insurance companies into settling cases that never should have gone to court if a review board stopped it for what it was. If people engage in criminal behavior they should be punished and or fined heavily but when doctors and other people make simple mistakes, or even when they don't, litigation and legalized blackmail should be stopped all together and or awards should be limited by law or a review board of professional arbitrators.

    Limit terms for House and Senate legislators to 2? This certainly won't curtail all of the abusive behavior and practices but it certainly would provide a chance for better damage control. At least if we have a public watch dog and reporting system that keeps tabs on what they said they'd do and what they end up doing instead we could dump the bum early on vie recall or during the next election.

    Would hospitals and other health care providers lower their fees and rates if they were guaranteed payment for services? Probably.

    Are we still going to be paying for indigent health care? Yes. How? Probably through a government subsidized policy. But we should know exactly how we were paying for it before and how much it cost before and place a cap on it.

    If health insurance companies had to insure these people and or people with preexisting conditions would your health insurance policies increase in costs? Of course. Are there other alternatives? Probably not. Should we keep things pretty much the way they are now? No. Should we continue paying out for free health care for illegal aliens? We let them in so what did you expect? I think we need have an effective system for bringing the law abiding ones out of the shadows and getting them into the system legally and force the criminal faction out of the country. I think we need to end the policy of automatically granting citizenship to children of illegals. This needs to be addressed right in the delivery room if and when that long overdue law passes.

    I think our government can help facilitate some of this by focusing on the issues that bring about true reforms. But, I think after they help get things started, they need to get out of the way and let the free enterprise system work the rest out.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 6:26 PM, sweepstakes2 wrote:

    As a health care provider, I wholeheartedly approve the government health care option and any Obama plan to cover more U.S. legal residents. The insurers hate competition and a checks and balances in the health care arena is desperately needed. There is growing corruption and out of control health care fraud almost equalling Wall Streets' fraud. Peoples" health , though is a priceless commodity that greedy medical & insurance fraudsters must back off of immediately. With the upcoming change of wealth, the rampant medical fraud will reach out of control proportions if the government does not step in. Medical bankrupcies and the ridiculous side effects are destroying lifetimes of hard work and ambition.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2009, at 8:36 PM, ynotc wrote:

    I don't konw if this report is flawed and I don't care. Here are the important questions.

    1. Does anybody really think that we can insure millions of people and our taxes will not go up?

    2. Does anyone really think that government will make anything more effiecient and effective and therefore realize any true savings.

    This isn't really about insuring the uninsured. If it were congress would be more thoughtful and take more time to craft such important legislation. It is about governement creating a whole new entitlement that will never dissapear but like all beauracracies will only grow and become more inefficent as time goes on. Meanwhile voters will become dependant on it to the point that no changes or improvements will be tolerated just like social security and medicaid are now off limits. In case anyone didn't notice the war on poverty has not solved poverty, neither will this solve the healthcare dilema. Government never solves anything it only perpetuates and institutionalizes the problem.

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2009, at 9:51 AM, 3gberserker wrote:

    There is no excuse for anyone to leave their end-of-life care decisions to the system.

    Everyone should designate power of attorney for end of life care.

    1. Make your own choice,

    2. Choose someone you trust to make the right choice,

    3. Leave it to the system and everyone pays more.

    Simple.

    Make a choice now. T

    hat's easy money saved.

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2009, at 6:01 PM, rashworth wrote:

    I really enjoyed the comments by so many who doubt that there will be anything but increases in costs. The whole debate on healthcare is not on economics. It is completely about politics and the polemics (verbal gy;mnastics) of the public speakers. There are no real numbers to work with because all the politicians do is play with numbers. They don't deal in real everyday economics.

    so it is somewhat discouraging to see Motley Fool taken up with a lot more confidence in the CBO than in Price W. Cooper.

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2009, at 6:27 PM, mlaursen wrote:

    re: "What really surprises me is that by opening up the market to provide health care coverage with a system where everybody must be covered and offering more choices to people so they can comply with this requirement, competition is bound to be promoted as companies seek to achieve economies of scale ."

    I didn't understand your reasoning here. Why would mandatory insurance necessarily lead to more economies of scale. What would be the insurance companies' motivation to seek out more cost effective ways of doing business if folks are forced to buy insurance from them, anyway?

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2009, at 6:53 PM, prose976 wrote:

    ANY government mandate that makes me, you or anyone else a criminal if we don't buy a health insurance plan is unconstitutional.

    Do we want another IRS breathing down our backs? Do we now want the IHS (Inter Health Service) knocking on our doors, "auditing" us, demanding money from us, taking over our accounts to get the money we "owe" them.

    It's all garbage. Government control needs to diminish in great quantities. Laws need to be repealed or retired by the thousands. Our Government needs to shrink until all the elected officials' heads have also been shrunk.

    Anyone considering giving the greenlight to more government control and intervention needs to have their head examined and needs to move to either China, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea or Cuba (or a bunch of other communist and socialist regimes across the globe).

    Obama should renounce his very questionable citizenship status and move to a Banaa Republic that needs a gang like the one he has surrounded himself with to run it.

    He's living in the wrong place and his head is in the wrong place to bring anything good to a system that is already in dire need of cleansing itself of corrupt, deceitful and conniving politicians who believe that their personal agendas and theories take a hire place than what the people have expressed inexhaustibly already.

    Obama is exacerbating the problems we already have. He would rather tear down the whole country to rebuild in his own demented vision than find the areas of rotten wood and eroded foundation and just replace those parts with good wood and new cement. The reason: He and his fellow politicians, lobbyists, Acorn-esque organizations, czars, judges, etc, ARE the rotten parts.

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2009, at 8:20 PM, bzns10s wrote:

    The writer assumes that a gov't agency can make an accurate estimate in a day or two, but a business in the business of making estimates cannot. The CBOs record of accuracy is wanting.

    Further, the writer assumes that there is no political or other pressure on the CBO to make an estimate that satisfies one group or another.

    We've heard these arguments before. Others may BE a government-dependent and always vote Democrat like all compliant citizens of center city USA, but I am not.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2009, at 10:56 AM, riosec wrote:

    Why are we arguing about a "public option" for health care? We should all be enrolled in the same health care plan that our politicians have.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2009, at 5:34 PM, dalecinci wrote:

    when i pay for something i want to walk out of the store with it...unlike all the fica ive paid for 45yrs and plan to walk out of the store with zilch..zero...nada

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2009, at 9:26 PM, imkul2003 wrote:

    The bottom line is that if you believe Obamacare will save us money and not denigrate the quality of our healthcare, you really are fools.

    When did Motley Fool become shills for Obama, anyway? Goodbye and good riddance!

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2009, at 1:01 AM, jm7700229 wrote:

    The PWC report was commissioned by the health insurance industry. How does this make it more suspect than studies commissioned by politicians or political parties? Or the thousands of wildly unsupported claims being made by national health care proponents? The CBO is, contrary to popular assumption, very susceptible to political pressure and its reports are as subject to bias as anyone's. So let's look at the criticism reported here:

    "a. The report fails to take into account administrative overhead costs that he said will "fall enormously" once insurance policies are sold through new government-regulated exchanges."

    How will administrative costs fall under government regulation? Medicare is processed under competitive bid contracts by insurance companies. Medicare actually adds about 3 percentage points to the overhead of these transactions. The Federal Employee Health Insurance Program (the solid gold program that Congress provides to itself), also subcontracts to the private sector, also adds several percentage points to the overhead cost.

    "b. It also fails to consider government subsidies that would be provided to help moderate-income American's purchase insurance."

    The CBO estimates that the latest bill will add over $900 billion to health costs over the next 10 years, but will "not add to the deficit." Every dime the government spends over and above its collections adds to the deficit. So the CBO seems to be saying that the government won't be paying for this additional cost. That means that insurers and policyholders will be paying it. And if government provides subsidies, then it means taxpayers are paying for it and it adds to the deficit. This isn't hard to understand: if the plan is revenue neutral, then individuals must be covering it; if not, then it adds to the deficit.

    "c. It reaches the opposite conclusion as Gruber, who says that premiums would actually decline for individuals and families purchasing insurance, with or without government subsidies."

    The cost of health care will go up by nearly a trillion dollars, it will not be paid by the government ("revenue neutral"), and premiums paid by policyholders will "actually decline???" Where is the trillion dollars coming from?

    The PWC report is backed by data, which is available to the public. Where is Gruber's data? I've been reading for a year about the horrible health insurers who are so insensitive that they actually make (or at least try to make) a profit from paying health claims. This is much worse than doctors, who are working for free, or lawyers who are taking huge gobs of cash out of the system with absolutely no benefit to anyone but themselves. Presumably, most of us who are employed in legal enterprises are trying to do something that will benefit society in some way in the long run. So are health insurance companies. When the rest of us decide to work for nothing, then the insurance companies should join us.

    If you like the way the Post Office runs; if you like the way the Department of Motor Vehicles runs, if you think Veterans' Affairs are handled humanely, then you deserve the health insurance you're asking for. I just wish you'd leave me out of it.

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2009, at 10:09 AM, econ333 wrote:

    Forget the reports and look at the basic facts. Conress is going to increase covered population and reduce the deficit while doing nothing to substanitively change the trend of rising health care costs. That can only be accomplished by raising taxes, cutting benefits or raising premiums for those that already have insurance. Of course the cost for comparable benefits will go up. The only relavant question is by how much and is the cost worth the benefit...

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2009, at 2:41 PM, lordhep wrote:

    How is this a fool article? What did that have to do with investing?

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2009, at 7:07 PM, foolishlymeek wrote:

    I am very suspicious of everyone - Congress, lobbyists, insurance companies - who have something to gain from a new health care program.

    Congress always seems to underestimate the true cost of programs they want the public to buy into (the latest bailouts, social security, medicare). Insurance companies are using scare tactics to keep a national health care program on hold (people would wait months for emergency procedures, you could not choose your own doctor, over a specific age, you would not receive any health care!).

    What I would like to see:

    1. The public gets the same insurance coverage as Congress. Since this idea could never be funded without huge tax increases, then Congress must take the same health care system they want to push on everyone else. (Congress has it's on pension plan. The members do not pay into or collect social security. I'd like to get my taxes back and invest them myself, too!)

    2. Fix Medicare/Medicaid before taking on the entire health care system. Senior citizens need supplemental insurance for Medicare - for doctor visits, prescriptions, etc. This insurance can be very expense. Also, there is a huge "gap" once a patient's expense reach a certain point. After paying thousands in medical expenses, the person can be insured again. If someone is ill, hitting the gap comes very quickly. On social security, ill, and now faced with paying for this "gap," what is a person to do? (One answer is not going without medical care. The individual must have expenses over a certain amount before being "re-activated" in the medicare program.)

    3. No fines for not having insurance. This recommendation shows me that Congress and Obama have no idea what "normal Americans" go through. When Clinton was pushing for national health care, the phrase "affordable health care" was batted around a great deal. When I paid for COBRA when I was unemployed, the premiums were over $250 a month. What is affordable for someone collecting $243 a week on unemployment??

    Why would I choose not to have insurance if I could afford it? I was in the hospital - regular semi-private room, no surgery - and the cost of the hospital, emergency room, doctors, and lab tests ran over $10,000 for a four-day stay. I have insurance - with a 20% copay. But if I didn't, the government wants to rub salt into the wound by fining me/? How stupid!

    4. I want to read all the fine print in a bill before it's passed. I don't trust Congress. I don't trust that they have my best interests at heart. I also expect lots of pork to be added to a bill that Congress tries to push through. I don't want the health care bill paying for bridges to no where, naval programs in central Pennsylvania, or other special interests.

    5. Once Congress sells the health care bill and estimates the costs, any overages must be paid by Congress Members. No tax increases - personal funds from Congress. Therefore, Congress will be very sure to over-estimate the cost and give Americans a better idea of what will happen. Also, they will not put in restrictions on costs for just a year or two. With Medicare, Congress used estimates based on controlled prescription drug costs. However, after the bill was passed, drug companies could charge whatever the market would accept for drugs.

    I'd also like to require that all Congress members live on minimum wage, with no expense accounts or special government programs (loans, drivers, pension plan), and work 50 weeks out of the year. However, that's an entirely new subject.

    Living in Pennsylvania, I've seen the state legistration give itself a raise, then state that it was unConstitutional to stop it. We've also been without a budget since July 1. Most of the budget has been approved, but money for some areas - particularly universities - has not been dispersed! Therefore, I have little respect or trust with "public servants"!

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 12:08 PM, harrisb6969 wrote:

    If you really believe that a bunch of lawyers with no medical experience at all are able to have the government run healthcare then I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

    One of the biggest items that should have been addressed is tort reform, but these lawyers will not do that as they are in the pockets of the trial lawyers.

    Just look at the state of Tennessee and their healthcare system. It started out good at first, but has ballooned in cost. This is exactly what will happen if the Federal Government controls healthcare and they will after all the insurance companies go out of business. It is a no brainer as to what will happen.

    Competition should have been allowed between insurance companies by lower the state lines which do not allow buying health insurance in another state. Of course, the members of Congress do not know anything about the free market system as they have never held a job other than in a law firm and more times than not most of them started out in their state legal offices.

    I only hope that in 2010 many of these career politicians will be removed from office.

    I might even go for a government run healthcare system if I knew the politicians would be in the program, but we know that will never happen. They only pass laws for us as they feel they are above the law.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 12:59 PM, landlines wrote:

    I have read the entire House bill (HR 3200) because this is the ONLY bill which has been passed by either body of Congress, and it therefore remains the ONLY actionable bill (despite protestations from Democrats running for cover and the constant lies regarding its content emanating from the White House).

    This bill, as well as all BOTH the CBO and the insurance industry analysis grossly underestimate the true cost of the "Health Care Bill" because they leave out major costs to consumers and providers, and treat the entire subject as a mere financial problem for the government.

    The impact of the "Health Care Bill" is much broader than that. Virtually all citizens will lose their present insurance coverage because all bills under consideration 'decertify' any pre-existing insurance plans which change their terms while simultaneously demanding changes in the terms of all of these plans.

    Every single study of insurance costs has identified "government mandates" as a major contributor to costs, yet all "Health Care Bill" candidates pile additional mandates upon all insurance policies. This will balloon costs for everyone with no commensurate benefits to anyone.

    In addition, there is a 'cost', ultimately paid by the patient (despite government 'help'), associated with driving doctors out of the system by cutting their income. There is also a cost associated with mandating use of inferior medical technologies (eg. x-rays instead of CAT scans and MRI's) using the excuse that doing so "saves money". There is no analysis of these costs (which include early deaths, prolonged illness, and lost income due to extended sickness/disability) in CBO or Industry figures.

    In summary, the true cost of changes in the existing health care system TO PATIENTS AND FAMILIES, which includes a lot more than just insurance premiums and taxes, has been grossly underestimated.

    Will Rogers once said "The country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer." In this case, the baby has hold of a nuclear bomb, and nothing good can come of it.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 1:07 PM, KYcomment wrote:

    This is a political article from a democrat. I see now what the MF agenda is and will not renew my subscription as I thought your service was investments.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 1:40 PM, sheltonclan wrote:

    I am also becoming disheartened at the political agenda of MF. I just purchased a one-year subscription for investing information. I did not bargain for this.

    And, by the way, I have worked with both Price-Waterhouse and the CBO. For accuracy, I will bet on PriceWaterhouse every single time.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 1:40 PM, augiedog wrote:

    Can not believe the MF is being political. Get out of politics, continue to

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 1:55 PM, mhrobson wrote:

    I, too, was appalled at this article. I read with slack-jawed disbelief that this bill would save billions and not increase premiums because of government subsidies to help cover the costs for low income families. So using this logic I can cut my expenses by buying more stuff? Brilliant! This government has everything figured out!

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 1:59 PM, EHWcomment wrote:

    I see that someone already addressed the farce of the CBO analysis, tax every year, spend for only some. This has led some to conclude you are a biased Democrat. I would like to give you the opportunity to tell us you're not biased you're just stupid. I guess in either case you shouldn't be giving anyone advice.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 2:38 PM, sls51 wrote:

    Great, I'm glad that there are a "few" others out there that seem to get it. I posed the question back on the 16th why the masses are not demanding equal treatment from our beloved leaders. Don't let it die here, start writing your Congressmen/women and DEMAND the same health care they get or leave it as is and let the people take care of the problem - through natural competition.

    BTW - they are about to up the debt ceiling to 13 trillion, but are hiding it in the defense budget and they have just made assault on gays a federal hate crime. Personally, if you shoot at me, I consider that hate no matter what your belief system or sexual persuasion happens to be.

    __________________________________________

    "WHY don't I ever see anyone demanding that each of us receive the SAME health care benefits that the 500+ are going to receive for the rest of their lives? Wake up Americans -- Hope we are not too late."

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 3:31 PM, foolishlymeek wrote:

    sls51 - I, too, want the same benefits as Congress. It's amazing the benefits you can get when you make the laws - separate pension system, separate health care system, pay raises, and an ethics committee that finds nothing unethical!

    I agree with you about hate crimes. If you are trying to kill me, I can only believe that it's a hate crime. Shoot your neighbor because you can't stand his guts - no hate crime under law. Shoot someone trying to break into your home who is a protected citizen - hate crime!

    I am also surprised at so many people upset with TMF for getting into politics. Politics has a huge affect on finances - otherwise we wouldn't have trillions of dollars of debt, banks would not have been bailed out, we would not have bailed out Detroit in the 1980's and in 2008 (remember Lee Iacocca?). Everything that affects taxes, the strength of the dollar, and redistribution of income affects personal financial situations.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 4:46 PM, mrj60mvp wrote:

    What does this article have to do with the mission of MF, other than being totally foolish? The writer appears to accept the CBO report at face value while rejecting the industry report out of hand. Is that independent thought or critical analysis, or is it simply partisan politics??

    Keep your mind on business and stock valuation, and stay off politics. This kind of article has no business on your site.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 5:04 PM, donbcms wrote:

    It's too simple a solution, but try this one! Put ALL Legislatures (Senators & Congressmen) on Social Security & Medicare, then sit back and see just how fast they would fix it! Don't say it can't be done. After all, they envied the 1 million U.S. Postal Service workers, thier Civil Service monies. So they (Congress) took them off of Civil Service, and put them on Social Security. Turn it around, do it to them ! !...IT CAN BE DONE ! ! 72 & fighting ! !

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 6:23 PM, donbcms wrote:

    To sis51 & foolishly meek , you are not alone ! (see above) And only real "fools" would knock MF ! If your health care has nothing to do with "Investing" and "Finances", what the H__L does ? ?.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 7:43 PM, quietwater wrote:

    Roosevelt proposed a public health care option. So did Truman. Instead we burden our businesses with the job, and they rightly want it off their backs to be competitve with other civilized countries.

    I am an Amercian citizen who has first hand health care experience in India, France, and Germany. I have also attempted to get emergency healthcare for several colleagues visiting the US. We are, in fact, 37th in the world - at best.

    The current system is an outrage. We can do better.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2009, at 8:29 PM, Roth100 wrote:

    This is so informative. I hope that the main points will be put in an ad to enlighten the general public and legislators who oppose reform.

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2009, at 3:35 AM, FoolishLav wrote:

    <i>A certainty is we can never trust our federal government to be truthful with us. Giving trust to our governments, from municipal to state to federal, would not make Motley Fools of us, this would simply make fools of us all.

    Okpulot Taha

    Choctaw Nation

    Puma Politics</i>

    and...

    <i>On October 16, 2009, at 11:54 AM, ACitizen wrote:

    I don't know who to believe...I guess I am tainted by observing how the government works for 50 some years, I'm 65. <b>I know anything run by the government</b> is inefficient, bureaucratic and run by bureaucratic toadies. I offer as examples Social Security, Medicare, the Post Office, Food and Drug Administration, etc. etc.</i>

    What the devil is it with Americans and hatred of their own elected government?!

    Always so ready to follow our leaders into war, we Americans just cannot seem to give our public servants the benefit of any doubts about anything else.

    We seem ready to leave our system in the care of the leech (i.e "Corporate Health Insurer") lobby by default. Why not just turn the whole country over the Wall Street bankers; they are the best and the brightest, right? They sure know how to be efficient, right? It's the "American Way," right? How backwards!

    Other advanced countries don't seem to be having the problems with their governments regarding health care we seem to fear. They get the job done better, and cheaper (leech therapy is not covered).

    Maybe Michael Moore ought to make a movie next about the American health care system to expose all of this.

    Lav

    "You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing... after they have exhausted all other possibilities.

    Sir Winston Churchill

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2009, at 3:50 AM, rontastic wrote:

    I am no expert but I think everyone should compromise a little. I know that we need a record keeping system that is easily accessible from anywhere like your e-mail account. When a friend of mine, late teens, with serious intestinal virus problems moved to another state she could not even be seen because her records were so slow to be forwarded for over a year. This person is very ill and they have just repeated all the dumb steps the first doctors did costing thousands of dollars, They finally scoped the intestines and declared it a viral infection then the I don't really know what it is all inclusive IBS

    It has been a horrible experience all while this person is really suffering. Now the medicine they gave Two months ago has had very little effect.

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2009, at 10:31 AM, RadioFreePG wrote:

    Well, I don't know about 7722, but my taxes aren't increasing at the rate of 10-34% (That's rgight, 34% this year!!) like the cost of my IHP is. It is hard for me to decide who likes to rake in cash more, the banks or the Insurance companies...but wait... if they get in trouble the government is going to bail them out. I am afraid that no matter what happens, those who are paying for healthcare now will pay more for their own and even more for the have-nots in the future no matter where they get it from. Cost containment would be great...but wait...maybe Obama will tell all the doctors and hospitals how much he is going to allow them to make after the gov infuses them all with cash like it is the banks and car companies. I only want three things: 1) Full tax deductibility of my health insurance 2) single-form/single price for all healthcare services and 3) ability to purchase an IHP ath the lowest group rate (universal pricing) for my age/risk group. (The insurance companies can then compete by giving the best service) This is something the government can do and it will only hurt a little -- like that flu shot you are supposed to be getting right now, but wait...

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2009, at 6:37 PM, trught wrote:

    outright propaganda !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2009, at 8:12 PM, CalifCondor wrote:

    Lest we all be lead as sheep ...believing any of the candy coated bull being fed by either party or researcher including Michael Moore and all lobbyist groups, ...it is time for all to read and/or re-read 'ANIMAL FARM' by George Orwell published in England in 1945.

    What ever happened to individual responsiblity first and social responsibility second? What ever happened to a government by and for the people? WAKE UP AMERICANS!!

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2009, at 4:40 AM, PoundMutt wrote:

    EVERYONE has their own agenda! Trust NOBODY!

    You know how to tell if a politician is lying? He's saying or writing something!

    A government powerful enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take everything you have!

    How much profit do health insurance companies REALLY make?

    WHY are college costs increasing 5-10% or more each year?

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2009, at 2:31 PM, Sytsr wrote:

    Reading financial newsletters I subscribe to, certainly including the Fool's very good ones, alongside print and media political and financial news is both interesting and helpful. It broadens the perspective of the purely political commentary. But investment letters seem way too quick to buy into the deep gloom and scarey projections put forth without careful backup by opponents of the current effort to bring a change of Health Care policy to the general public. So I was really worried that MF might do the same when I read your headline above. Shame on me!

    Thank you so very much for a fair reading of current health care financial news!

    There is a tremendous need for all our citizens to have HC coverage - both for their sake and ours, since healthy citizens are more productive, make better employees and keep healthier households, saving urgent, expensive trips to the Emergency Room that we eventually pay for anyway thru the government.

    The current cost of America's HC is outrageous...way out of line with other nations and a disgrace to our willingness to insist on a well-administered program. Much of the problem comes from fact that the insurance companies who underwrite it are profit-driven businesses. Their first care is not for the individual. Rather their focus is how to keep from okaying payment for various expensive treatments.

    Plus with the multiplicity of companies offering insurance there is much duplication - of procedures, of administrative work and of perscriptions. Making a repaired system efficient is the obvious way to reduce costs, and that requires reducing the number of hands in the till between the citizen and the final payment.

    Insurance companies and big pharma have already begun to build in ways to do business under a new program. The changes being proposed won't put insurance out of business as some do-gooder business sympathizers wail. It's just easier to harrumph, lobby Congress against change, and keep what's a good thing for them now.

    Business's expertise is in finding ways to make money. One way or another they will survive, so let's make that "other" way one that will deliver good basic health care to all Americans at a reduced cost to the nation.

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2010, at 5:11 PM, TMFCop wrote:

    Even though it's months later now (1/8/10), I thought I'd add this note to the comment stream that the guy that was front and center on "exposing" the insurance report as flawed, was actually a shill working for the Obama administration.

    Jonathan Gruber, that supposed respected MIT health care economist, actually had contracts with Health & Human Services valued at $400,000 to "evaluate" health care proposals.

    Not so surprising now is it that he'd disparage a study that didn't agree with his (or the Obama administration's) worldview?

    Rich

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