When will the insurers revolt?
It's a question that's popping up more and more. On the surface, the question answers itself. We're talking about pinstriped insurance company executives, not Hell's Angels. One doesn't want to paint with too broad a brush, but if you were going to guess which vocations lend themselves least to revolutionary zeal, the actuary sciences rank slightly behind embalmers.
Still, it's hard not to wonder how much more these people are willing to take. Even an obedient dog will bite if you kick it enough. Since
But the insurers kept their eyes on the prize: huge guaranteed profits stemming from the diktat of the health insurance mandate. When asked how he silenced opponents in the health industry, Aneurin Bevan, creator of the British National Health Service, responded, "I stuffed their mouths with gold."
Hence, the insurers were ready on Oct. 1. They rejiggered their industry. They sent out millions of cancellation letters to customers whose plans no longer qualified under the new standards set by the Affordable Care Act. They told their customers to go to the exchanges to get their new plans.
But because President
In response, the president blamed it on the insurance companies or "bad apple" insurers.
Then, just last week, Health and Human Services Secretary
Of course, urging isn't forcing. But as Avik Roy of Forbes notes, the difference is subtle. Also last week,
The irony, as Christopher DeMuth recently noted in the Weekly Standard, is that if the architects of Obamacare had their way, the insurers would have been in even worse shape today. The original plan was for a "public option" that would have, over time, undercut the private insurance market to the point where single-payer seemed like the only rational way to go. If it weren't for then-Sen.
In other words, the insurance companies knew the administration never had their best interests at heart but got in bed with it anyway.
Articulating my sympathy for the insurance companies is difficult without the accompaniment of the world's smallest violin. But, still, I have to wonder, do those running these companies have no backbone whatsoever? I understand that the insurance companies have been consolidating into de facto utilities for decades. But they at least once mustered some passion for defending their status as private enterprises. Sure, they have obligations to shareholders, but their obligations do not end there. Can not one of them resign on principle and speak up? Or are their mouths so stuffed with gold that they couldn't get the words out even if they tried?