Why the private health insurance industry faces an existential crisis

A former health insurance executive says the moment the insurance industry fears most has arrived

From Salon


SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 12:30PM (UTC)

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

I have told a lot of stories about my time near the top of the health insurance industry. This is not one I’ve ever shared, until now.

Shortly before I left Cigna, I was at a meeting of the company’s senior executives. This was as then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was gaining traction in national polls and filmmakers like Michael Moore were documenting how broken our health insurance system had become. Our CEO at the time, Edward Hanway, had just been asked a simple question by the company’s top attorney: “What keeps you up at night?”

He responded without hesitation. “Disintermediation.”

I had never heard the term and had to look it up. The definition: cutting out the middleman.

What scared us most at the health insurance companies was our place on the priority list for patients. We know people want to see their doctor, visit their preferred pharmacy or attend any hospital in an emergency. This makes doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses essential to the delivery of health care. They’re the faces of it. Behind the scenes are companies that make drugs and machines important to treatment, along with people who conduct research and implement health policies.

Our health insurance companies, in contrast, are not essential. They don’t treat anyone. They don’t prevent anyone from becoming sick. They don’t take you to the hospital or make sure you take your pills. They don’t fund or discover medical innovations. They’re simply middlemen we don’t need. And in the industry, we always dreaded the day American businesses and patients would wake up to that reality.

That day has come.

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Dan Geiger
VOX News: We read 9 Democratic plans for expanding health care. Here’s how they work.

By Sarah Kliff and Dylan Scott Updated Jun 21, 2019, 4:20pm EDTGraphics by Javier Zarracina and Christina Animashaun/Vox; Photos via Getty Images

Democrats are talking a lot about Medicare-for-all. But what exactly do they mean?

Democratic candidates have run — and won — on a promise to fight to give all Americans access to government-run health care. A new Medicare-for-all bill in the House has more than 100 co-sponsors. But there are still real disagreements among Democrats. Some of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates have endorsed single payer, while others prefer more incremental improvements. They’ll soon start hashing out those differences at the debates.

To capture the full scope of options Democrats are considering to insure all (or at least a lot more) Americans, look at the half dozen or so plans in Congress, which all envision very different health care systems.

“Democrats ran on health care,” Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz told Vox last year. “We now control one chamber of Congress. We have an opportunity and an obligation to demonstrate what we’d do if we were in charge of both chambers. We have an obligation to hear from experts and figure out the best path forward.”

We spent a month reading through the congressional plans to expand Medicare (and a few to expand Medicaid, too) as well as proposals at major think tanks that are influential in liberal policymaking. We talked to the legislators and congressional staff who wrote those plans, as well as the policy experts who have analyzed them.


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Dan Geiger
Opinion: Why single-payer would improve California health care

The only big losers are the private insurance companies – and that’s okay with me

San Jose Mercury News


PUBLISHED: April 2, 2019 at 6:10 am | UPDATED: April 2, 2019 at 6:13 am

—How to achieve universal health insurance in California? In our super-progressive, supermajority Democratic state, that’s the health policy question of the day. Not if we should lead the way on universal coverage, but how.

Recently, UC Berkeley economists proposed a solution, dubbed California Dreamin’. Expand current insurance to cover the uninsured, using up to $17 billion in new taxes. That’s a 5 percent bump in health spending. Problem solved, right?

No. While the goal is admirable, the Dreamin’ approach adds a Rube Goldberg appendage to a Rube Goldberg health care financing system. It layers cost and complexity upon cost and complexity. Our insurance system will continue to underperform.

We need to revamp our insurance mess. We can do this with a well-known and proven solution: single-payer.

Also known as improved “Medicare-for-All,” single-payer has these core features: everyone is covered cradle to grave with the same comprehensive benefits package; health care is financed by a single entity; payment is greatly simplified; patients freely choose among doctors; and doctors focus on providing care.

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Dan Geiger
Medicare for All Is Not Just Good Politics—It’s Good for Business, Too

Having health insurance tethered to employment is a terrible idea.

By Joe Sanberg

The Nation

We’ve all heard, read and seen the claims that Medicare for All is bad for the the economy, anti-business, and an attack on the free market. In response, advocates for Medicare for All like myself have instead made the case about the moral urgency of ensuring that everyone has health care, no matter their means.

But what if Medicare for All is the moral and economically smart course? What if a business-friendly figure, like an entrepreneur, explained that Medicare for All would be one of the best things we could do to create better paying jobs, faster new business growth, and an economy that could better compete in the world market?

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Dan Geiger
Healthy California Campaign Launches

Labor, Community, and Health Advocacy Organizations
Launch Renewed Campaign to Win California Medicare for All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday March 4, 2019
Contact Matthew Artz: 510-435-8035, martz@nuhw.org

SACRAMENTO — Less than one week after the introduction of a federal Medicare For All bill in the House of Representatives, a statewide, non-partisan coalition comprised of community, consumer, labor, health, disability, LGBTQ, business, and political organizations launched the renewed and reinvigorated Healthy California campaign.

The campaign is founded on the principles that healthcare is a human right, and that publicly and equitably financed access to quality care for all residents of California is critical to our state’s social and economic well-being. It is dedicated to establishing a single-payer Medicare For All system in California as a model for an equitable U.S. healthcare system with no barriers to care.

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Dan Geiger
March 19th: UC-Berkeley and Business Alliance sponsor "Universal Coverage: Is Medicare for All the Answer?'

Join the Business Alliance for a Healthy California, UC-Berkeley School of Public Health and the Haas Business School for a special event on March 19, 2019 at UC- Berkeley. Register here.

The cost and availability of health care is one of the most critical issues facing the United States. “Medicare for All,” or a single-payer system, is one approach that embraced by numerous presidential candidates, Governor Gavin Newsom, and leaders in other states. Several Medicare-for-All bills are either pending or in development nationally and in California.

What does “Medicare for All” really mean, how would it be financed, and are there other ways to achieve universal health care? Join us for a discussion that will address these questions and more. Our panelists will explain the basics of a single-payer system, its pros and cons, and other strategies to achieve universal health care.

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Dan Geiger
Jeffrey Sacks on "Why the Medicare for All Bill is a Winner

Source: CNN

Jeffrey Sachs is a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author; view more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN)Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced a sweeping Medicare for All (MFA) bill on Wednesday (H.R. 1384), and the national debate on healthcare is bound to intensify through the 2020 election. Voters rank healthcare costs as their second most important priority, just after the economy. The political fate of MFA will likely depend on one key question: Will it reduce healthcare costs while preserving the freedom to choose health providers?

If properly structured, MFA can do that: cut costs while improving choice.

Medicare for All has come a long way since Sen. Bernie Sanders launched his 2016 presidential campaign on that theme, while fellow Democrats ran from the label. Sanders also faced the wrath of mainstream pundits like Paul Krugman, who described Sanders' healthcare plan as "smoke and mirrors." Now, every major Democratic Party candidate endorses the label, (though they will certainly differ on the details) and Sanders could well become president in 2021 on the basis of his clear and persistent MFA advocacy.

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Dan Geiger
'The Time for Medicare for All Has Come': Jayapal Unveils Visionary Bill to Remake US Healthcare System

Published on Wednesday, February 27, 2019

by Common Dreams

Calling for a "complete transformation of our healthcare system," Democratic congresswoman says what her legislation will mean is simple: "Everybody in, nobody out."

by Jake Johnson, staff writerJon Queally, staff writer

"Healthcare is a human right. We will need every single person in the country to help us, to stand with us, to organize, and to fight for this," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said in a statement. (Image: Rep. Pramila Jayapal/Facebook)

In a historic step toward replacing America's uniquely expensive and deadly for-profit healthcare system with a humane program that would leave no one behind, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Wednesday will officially introduce Medicare for All legislation that policy experts and advocates have praised as comprehensive, strong, and "battle-ready."

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Dan Geiger