Try living with them and you’ll trampled or eaten. One of the many notable dinosaurs surviving today is the health insurance industry. They are really big. Have voracious appetites. And their sole purpose is keep you alive just long enough to eat every dollar you have.
Way back in the World War II era (before the internet began recording history), these dinosaurs began roaming the US as result of the wage freeze during the war. Employers saw it as way to scam the freeze and attract employees when employees were scarce. By the end of the war, employees loved these cute little scaly creatures (Yabba-Dabba Do). They didn’t eat much back then, but as we started feeding them, they started growing and got bigger and bigger. They began eating each other and fighting over the food supply – us. Thick skinned, with no known predators, lots of lobbyists and seemingly impervious to regulation, they have continued to grow to their enormous present-day size. They also seem to have a particular love for the food in the South.
Quoting researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Click here for the full report), SouthernStudies.org, says the “Health insurance industry monopolizes the South. According to the report, insurer consolidation also disproportionately disadvantages rural states. In several rural states across the nation the two largest health insurers control at least 80% of the statewide market. In Alabama, for instance, the biggest insurer holds 89% of the statewide market, the highest rate in the nation for a single company. Even more populous states in the South have serious market concentration problems; Virginia’s largest health insurer, for example, controls a 50% share of the statewide market.
The combined market share percentage of the top two insurers in each state in the South:
Alabama – 88
Arkansas – 81
Florida – 45
Georgia – 69
Kentucky – 69
Louisiana – 74
Mississippi – n/a
North Carolina – 73
South Carolina – 75
Tennessee – 62
Texas – 59
Virginia – 61
West Virginia – 54
”In the past 13 years, more than 400 corporate mergers have involved health insurers, and a small number of companies now dominate local markets“ – HCAN
“94 percent of insurance markets in the United States are now highly concentrated, and insurers are thriving in the anti-competitive marketplace, raking in enormous profits and paying out huge CEO salaries“ – The American Medical Association
”Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed, going up more than 87% on average over the past six years“ – The Department of Justice
From blog.AFLCIO.org and quoting a letter to the Department of Justice’s Anti-Trust Division, Richard Kirsch, HCAN national campaign manager, and David Balto, former policy director of the Federal Trade Commission and now senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, writes: “Simply put, the private insurance companies have secured monopolies or tight oligopolies and exercised that power to put profits ahead of patients….There were no actions taken against anticompetitive conduct by health insurers in the last administration, in spite of the fact that cases by state attorneys general have secured massive fines against these insurers. A lack of antitrust enforcement has enabled insurers to acquire dominant positions in almost every metropolitan market.”
Extinct in most of the world, the cost of maintaining these dinosaurs has soared.
According to the National Coalition on Health Care:
- In 2008, total national health expenditures were expected to rise 6.9 percent — two times the rate of inflation.
- Total spending was $2.4 TRILLION in 2007, or $7900 per person
- Total health care spending represented 17 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) – compared to 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France.
- U.S. health care spending is expected to increase at similar levels for the next decade reaching $4.3 TRILLION in 2017, or 20 percent of GDP.
- The annual premium for an employer health plan covering a family of four averaged nearly $12,700.
- The annual premium for single coverage averaged over $4,700.
- Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.
- Health insurance cost in the United States have been rising four times faster on average than workers’ earnings since 1999.
- The average employee contribution to company-provided health insurance has increased more than 120 percent since 2000. Average out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, co-payments for medications, and co-insurance for physician and hospital visits rose 115 percent during the same period.
- National surveys show that the primary reason people are uninsured is the high cost of health insurance coverage.
- A recent study by Harvard University researchers found that the average out-of-pocket medical debt for those who filed for bankruptcy was $12,000. The study noted that 68 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance. In addition, the study found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses.Every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem.
- A new survey shows that more than 25 percent said that housing problems resulted from medical debt, including the inability to make rent or mortgage payments and the development of bad credit ratings.
- Retiring elderly couples will need $250,000 – $300,000 in savings just to pay for the most basic medical coverage.
- The United States spends six times more per capita on the administration of the health care system than its peer Western European nations.
We obviously need a dragon slayer. We need to kill these evil beasts off once and for all. We cannot afford to wait. They will eat us all. Write your congressperson. Demand single payer and enforcement of our anti-trust laws. If for no other reason, do it because dinosaur farts contribute to greenhouse gases and some believe brought on the last ice age.