Monday, April 27, 2009

Unhealthy view: Demonizing risk firms gets absurd

The Oklahoman Editorial
Published: April 26, 2009

Make no mistake: The goal of the most extreme members of the Legislature is not to reform health care but to remake it, to create a system like those found in Europe that have been "reformed” to the point of forcing people to wait months for procedures that most Americans can get in days.

The demonization of private insurers has reached an absurd level. State Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, a man with a history of moderation, now calls the insurance industry perverted. Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, a man rejected by 61 percent of Oklahoma voters in his bid for the U.S. Senate, demands more regulation of the industry.

Playing to populist instincts has a storied history in Oklahoma. Our constitution is practically a shrine to populism. And most of us have had an unpleasant experience with an insurance company at one time or another.

Yet most of us don’t believe government should control every aspect of the industry simply because we don’t always get our way.

Insurance is a business. Insurers are required to maintain solvency or they’re forced by the state into receivership. Coverage schemes are designed to maintain solvency. Piling on coverage mandates, as Gumm and Rice are keen to do, means higher premiums for all of us. For some of us, this means premiums pass the point of affordability.

Of course this can be "fixed” with government health care, the cost of which won’t be optional and the delivery of which won’t be efficient.

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