Health Care

Reinsure the health insurance industry? WTF?

If anything should convince you that we need single-payer or universal health care or Medicare-for-all or whatever you want to call it, this should do it.

Lee newspapers’ Holly Michels does a decent job of explaining it, but it’s still such a convoluted concept I was left scratching my head.

I’ll give Gov. Steve Bullock kudos for trying to bring down the cost of federal marketplace health insurance. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing head wound, though. Since Trump and congressional Republicans have eliminated the individual mandate, expanded low cost/low coverage short-term policies and ended cost-sharing reduction payments, premiums have gone up.

So, the idea for reinsurance is that the health insurance industry needs its own insurance pool in case more and higher claims come in than the companies expected. This is supposed to bring marketplace premiums down.

How this pool is funded has yet to be worked out but the feds kick in some bucks as does the state. Part of the state’s share might be funded by a tax on the insurance companies. Blue Cross/Blue Shield already pays a 2.75 percent tax on premiums. The other companies that use the federal marketplace — Pacific Source and Montana Health Co-op — do not. I’m sure the industry will, or already does, pass those premium taxes along to policy holders.

To me, it seems like we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Premium hikes, or taxes that you and I pay to the feds and state, will make up the difference on what the insurance industry doesn’t want to cover.

This is just another layer in an already incredibly complex health care system.

It won’t be a simple transition and will take some time to hone into an efficient, cost-saving system but time’s a wastin’ for a not-for-profit, single-payer health care program that covers everyone.


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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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