Friday, March 16, 2012

This Week's Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

If Michael NiCastro is going to consistently use his column in the Bristol Observer as a sounding board for partisan rhetoric, the editorial board would do well to provide a weekly column for an opposing viewpoint. His column in the March 16, 2012 edition, "Healthcare Reform, The Hidden Tax", Mr. NiCastro legitimately decries the burden the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) may place on small businesses but in doing so he also laments the fact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will actually require health insurance companies to spend more money on actual medical care for insured individuals. What a radical concept!

It is too bad the the remaining "20 cents on the dollar" for administrative costs will not be enough to cover exorbitantly huge CEO and managerial salaries. (see:; and also: and will supposedly result in the health insurance industry not being a "highly ranked" investment opportunity.

He says it will also result in an average increase of $5,000 over 10 years for families purchasing health insurance on the individual market (about $500 per year). This is not surprising as these corporations will never reduce their obscene profit margin, but will continue to bleed consumers and find new ways to deny medical care in order to increase profits and make stockholders and executives more wealthy.

The Health Insurance crisis that we are now into over our heads was exacerbated by, if not in fact precipitated by, its becoming a publicly traded commodity. The transformation of the industry from "not-for-profit" to "for-profit" status has built-in conflicts of interest: huge profits can be realized for stockholders only by collecting increasingly more in premiums than is paid out in medical care. (

Over the past 15 or so years we have seen health insurance premiums go up more than any other basic necessity; we have seen huge deductibles introduced when to raise premiums further would just shut too many people out of the pool and reduce corporate income; we are about to see many individuals with high deductibles actually delay needed medical care and end up costing the dysfunctional health care "system" more in the long run; we have seen more procedures, treatments and medications denied by insurance companies who are now apparently in the business of "practicing medicine" - telling doctors how and how much to treat a patient or disease; and we have seen CEOs and executive compensation skyrocket in spite of or because of it.

I wish I could say this was not the case for those health insurers that remained not-for-profit, but even their CEOs must feel the need to "keep up with the Joneses". Some not-for-profit health insurance CEO's are also raking in huge salaries ( at the expense of those who need medical care.

I am no fan of the current Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It has been labeled "Obamacare" by its opponents (mostly Republicans) despite the fact that they took the very workable and cost-effective "public option" out of the President's proposal and made absolute minced meat of health care reform. You can thank them for the HIT.

It is time for the "for-profit" health insurance industry to get out of the business of practicing medicine (let's talk about death squads) and either start providing real medical care or turn over that role to a single-payer, National Health Care system. Despite Mr. NiCastro's snide quote of the week, if you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when health insurance company profit margins and CEO salaries go even higher.

I am one of the 99%.


Stan said...

All this mess could be solved by providing univeral healthcare for all like all other modern societies do.
Nobody should profit over the misfortunes of other becoming ill and losing everything they have.

Russ Manley said...

Preach it, Brother Frank! Stan and I are in the amen corner.

I can never forget my friend Tommy (died 1991) lying in his hospital bed, having to argue and plead with his insurance company (supposedly very good insurance - he worked for Southwestern Bell) over paying for medications and treatments ordered by his doctor. Who as it happens was one of the world's top AIDS doctors, down at the big hospital in Houston I forget the name of at the moment.

But imagine having to suffer through not only the disease but also the indignity of *begging* the fucking insurance company to pay to keep you alive. To hell with that.


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