The answer is simple: $$$$

The St. Petersburg Times ran a good story this morning looking at donations to politicians in the state of Florida by… Health insurance companies and other groups who stand to see a decline in their windfall profits if the Federal Government actually reforms healthcare.  Now, you may be saying, “But the insurance companies aren’t making that much money…”  Um, right!  Has anyone actually looked at how much they make?  Why don’t I see this in the news?  Here’s just one company’s profits (one that insures me) – Humana:

  • 2008 profit: $647,000,000
  • 2007 profit: $834,000,000

Where does that profit come from?  Overcharging people like you and me for their medical needs and paying out less in costs than they receive in premiums.

Think about it.  If you took that money out of healthcare expenses, that would be $647 million less individual consumers would have to pay for their health care.  That is what a government, not for profit option would do: It would substantially reduce the cost of health care for individual consumers by cutting out the profit motive.  As long as there is a profit motive in health care, it will cost a lot more.  This is precisely why the US pays more in healthcare per person than any other nation in the world.  It has nothing to do with “the best” healthcare and everything to do with profit for insurance companies.

If Humana is at all representative of other health insurance providers, then it is no wonder that the coffers of politicians nationwide are filling to the brim as the health insurance providers, who have a virtual oligopoly on health insurance and get tax breaks as a result of legislation they lobbied for, are trying to save their windfall profits.

So, if the public option dies, know why: Health Insurance companires in the US killed it.  Not with bullets, but with money.  The very money that would be saved by consumers if we went with a public option.  Oh the irony!

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