Dealing with “the Health Insurance Mafia”

I love mystery novels. One of the authors I’ll read on occasion is Jonathan Kellerman. But the op-ed he published in the Wall Street Journal last week was far from mysterious. His rip-roaring piece (The Health Insurance Mafia) savaged the health insurance industry as surely as his fictional villains savage their prey. Here’s just one sample:

The health insurance model is closest to the parasitic relationship imposed by the Mafia and the like. Insurance companies provide nothing other than an ambiguous, shifty notion of “protection.” But even the Mafia doesn’t stick its nose into the process; once the monthly skim is set, Don Whoever stays out of the picture, but for occasional “cost of doing business” increases. When insurance companies insinuate themselves into the system, their first step is figuring out how to increase the skim by harming the people they are allegedly protecting through reduced service.

In addition to being a writer, Kellerman is a clinical professor of pediatrics and psychology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. Kellerman’s bold statement really hit home.

This year, I got an innocuous looking notice from our health insurance provider that our premiums will be going up 17%. Nothing in our society has that kind of inflation. I started asking my insurance company to provide documentation to justify that outrageous increase. They sent me a generic statement explaining things like revised rates for predicted health conditions, rising medical costs and the like. The reason that really caught my eye though was “the impact of any new legislative regulations.”

I wondered. Is part of my premium going to their legions of lobbyists who patrol the halls of the Roundhouse? And a further question: If no new regulations are passed by the Legislature, shouldn’t I get a rebate?

Are we sure we want to pass laws that would require that every one of us start paying into this industry? The truth is often better than fiction. Nice job, Professor Kellerman.

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