Lars Larson: Health care insurance profits removed

What if you took away all of the profits of all of the health insurance companies? What would happen?

I know the general conclusion is that nothing useful came out of the Health Care Summit in Washington””the one where all the Republicans finally got a chance to sit down with the President and give him some ideas even though he’d refused to have that kind of meeting for the last year.

Well, I thought the most important point came from Senator Lamar Alexander (R. Tenn.). It came in one simple comment.

Senator Alexander said to the President, “Mr. President, for those people who think that health insurance companies are the problem, or profits are the problem, if you took all of the profits from all of the health insurance companies in all of America, they’d add up to enough money to buy two days of health insurance coverage for America.”

So, if you think the profits are the problem, I don’t. I think profits motivate people. I think profits produce great products and great services and great prices.

If you think they are the problem, what are you going to do with the other 363 days of the year?

“For more Lars click here”

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 17 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ralph

    These anti-business morons make me sick.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone know what the Bureaucracy will cost for free or government run health care?
    My guess is it will make the profits and bonus look cheap!

    • dartagnan

      I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do know that administrative costs for Medicare are substantially below those for the private health insurance industry.

      If conservatives are convinced that the government can’t do anything right, why are they afraid of letting government insurance compete with private insurance? According to your cherished doctrines the private insurance plans should easily out-compete any government-administered plan.

      • Anonymous

        Private insurance companies have to pay taxes on their offices and property taxes.

        Government offices don’t.

        It would not be a level playing field

        • also anonymous

          Then I guess religious based insurance should also be banned right? We already have Medicare, the VA, and Medicaid. What we want is reasonably priced, effective health insurance. Why should we care at all whether private companies cannot compete with public insurance? What is in it for us (unless we work at an insurance company)? Why should we let private for profit insurance companies continue to bankrupt the nation? Because it is “fair”? Forget about it.

        • Hold on there skippy

          Business taxes come out of profits AFTER expenses are deducted.

          If businesses really wanted a level playing field, allow unions.

  • Mark Sanderson

    Dems are clueless as the backlash in the country against them and their ways. Maybe this is good, as they will keep on swinging for the fence and will hopefully get drubbed for it.
    They are fools for the most part, except for how they keep fooling people into voting for them. I have to give them credit for that one – they are geniuses when it comes to lying to people about their intentions. Absolute masters of deception and guile.
    They are so wrong.

    • Brad Rydman

      Unfortunately, that seems to be a bipartisan job requirement of all politicians anymore…..

  • Anonymous

    Alexander’s (more or less) correct on the single datapoint of “insurance company profits”, which of course are calculated the same way we do it in our own C-corp, after expenses including all compensation and bonuses.

    The …….er……..elephant in the room that no one’s been discussing is the skyrocketing costs of hospitals, testing, new med tech, and so forth.

    It’s amazing to me that since Easmorland hospital closed several years back, every hospital in the Portland Metro area, is listed as a non-profit. If that’s the case, shouldn’t they be pooling resources on MRI machines and other expensive (but often idle) diagnostic equipment?

    What about executive compensation? The money these guys take out of the system is justified in exactly the same way that Goldman Sachs execs justify theirs. “We’re the Pros” and you’ll suffer if we the “experts” are replaced.

    Which begs the question: “What exactly have they accomplished so far that merits their stanced…….

  • valley p

    The insurance companies do not deliver any health care whatsoever. They are simply a middle man between the doctor and the patient, and they make their money by skimming. And in order to have something to skim they exclude people with pre-existing conditions, or charge them more than they can afford, or they kick people off after the fact, or they reduce benefits and increase out of pocket expenses. How much profit they make is not very relevant. Their very existence is bankrupting the nation.

    Health insurance should not be a for profit business to begin with. Every other nation on earth has figured this out except us. Recognizing reality is not being anti-business. We don’t expect police or fire or education to be for profit services for a good reason. And we should stop expecting health insurance to be for profit for the basic reason that we are not going to allow people to just die in the streets without care. They will get care and it will be paid for by higher premiums for everyone else and higher taxes. We are already paying for this, far more than other nations do. For profit health insurance distorts everything. It is nowhere near a free market and never will be.

    • Anonymous

      Valley p, do you make a profit? Or do you work for free?

      • valley p

        The business I am in manages to make a modest profit most years. Many people work non profit, but they don’t work for free. Every other advanced nation in the world has made health insurance provided by the government (like we do with Medicare and Medicaid) or has required private providers to be non profit. Its the only two proven ways to have universal coverage. Take the profit motive out.

        Health insurance companies don’t provide health care, they don’t invent new technologies to improve health care, they don’t create or dispense medicines. They are simply a pass through. We don’t need them, wouldn’t miss them if they went away, and they bung up the entire works. We do need a minor pass through function, but it can be provided much more cheaply and fairly by government or a non profit system.

        • jim karlock

          *Dean Apostile* Health insurance companies don’t provide health care, they don’t invent new technologies to improve health care, they don’t create or dispense medicines. They are simply a pass through.

          *JK* Same for government! Why do you think government would be an improvement?

          And please answer this one:

          This country has a few people who are short of money for food. We don’t force everyone on to government supplied food just to help those few.

          This country has a few people who are short of money for medical insurance. Why should we force everyone onto government medical care just to help those few?


          • valley p

            “Same for government! Why do you think government would be an improvement?”

            For the simple reason that experience shows that it is true. Every nation that uses the government or a highly regulated non profit system as the pass through for health insurance has better health care at lower cost than the United States. Every single one. That is empirical evidence. We have already done the experiment and the “free market” lost on this one a long time ago.

            “This country has a few people who are short of money for food. We don’t force everyone on to government supplied food just to help those few.”

            Its a false comparison. Food availability and distribution is nothing like health insurance. Food is abundant and cheap. Insurance operates through pooling risk. With food, there is no pooled risk. Though if food were short, I mean seriously short, I can assure you it would be rationed and not just sold to those who had the most money. See WW2 for an example.

            “This country has a few people who are short of money for medical insurance. Why should we force everyone onto government medical care just to help those few?”

            If that were the only problem we could solve it by subsidizing those with inadequate means. But we have a lot of people with enough money to buy basic insurance, yet since they have pre-existing conditions they can’t get insurance. We have another pile of people who have insurance, but the companies kick them off when they need it. We have another pile who max out their life time benefits and then go broke. And we have many more of us tethered to jobs we don’t like because we can’t afford to lose the insurance.

            In other words, we are distorting our entire economy to allow a few companies to make profits on a broken system. Its madness. We know there are superior models out there yet we persist because of rigid ideology, fear of government, fear of change, or sheer stubbornness.

  • Rick Hickey

    Again everybody forgets the #1 reason we are having this long running debate-Tens of Millions of “immigrants”, who do NOT pay their Dr. bill, refuse to buy Health insurance, are “low” income and qualify for all gov’t help and have lots of Anchor babies (and as a group have much higher rates of Cancer, Diabetes, Heart disease, Achohol/drug/Mental disorder treatment) and the millions of Americans who have lost thier job or have had their wages deperessed.

    Secure the Border, make proof of citizenship to get Benefits or a Job or Vote and problem solved!
    Government budgets would be reduced severely (millions of less needy here) and Dr.s and Hospitals get paid again. Same impact on Schools and crime related expenses…

    Massive immigration mostly from the 3rd world is making us that “Socialist” nation they fled, as desperate Americans and immigrants look for anyone to help them.

  • Rick Hickey

    FACT: Over 23 MILLION, or 2 million per year for the last 10 years OR over 1/2 of all immigrants with Children are on some type of

  • Justin

    People are confusing the COSTS with the PROFITS. Profits are what is left over after all the bills are paid. PROFITS are the excess after all the salaries have been given out and the costs of running the business are factored in. If we are talking about PROFITS ALONE, yeah, I believe it would only cover 2 days of health care for the USA. But if we’re talking COSTS TO RUN AN INSURANCE COMPANY that is something very different. The COSTS TO RUN AN INSURANCE COMPANY that pays it’s CEO $25 million a year, and pays for advertising on the side of NASCARs, and commercials during the super bowl, and company cars for executives is significant.

    We are talking about a large sum of money that is being “skimmed” by middle men. We are talking about a significant amount of money that is being taken from patients. This is money that you could use to pay your mortgage, pay your bills, and buy food for your family. I am surprised that people are so willing to defend the lavish COSTS of running an insurance company when it is their money that is paying for all of it.

    I don’t think a single payer system is going to fix the mess of health care. But to have a Senator make a statement that is so blatantly misleading is insulting.

    The fact that Senator Lamar Alexander (R. Tenn.) got this little talking point into his speech just shows how smart he is and how dumb he thinks the American people are. The fact that so many people think the profits are the same as the costs is shocking.

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