Wasn't the new health care reform law supposed to make health care more affordable for everyone? Well, imagine my surprise when I opened up a letter from my health insurance company recently and found out that my health insurance premiums were going up by nearly 50 percent. I am in perfect health and I have never had a single health insurance claim with this company. Unfortunately, after doing a little research, I discovered that I am far from alone. All over the United States, people are being hit with double-digit percentage increases in their health insurance premiums even as the health insurance predators continue to rake in record profits. At a time when millions of American families are barely making it from month to month, the last thing they need is to be figuratively kicked in the groin by the health insurance companies. But that is exactly what is happening.
Not that health insurance companies ever needed an excuse to raise rates, but in 2010 many of them are blaming changes in health care law for the dramatic rise in premiums.
Of course it is true that there are over a dozen new taxes on the health care industry in the "health care reform" law that Barack Obama and the Democrats rammed down the throats of the American people, and everyone should have realized that those taxes would ultimately be passed on to the consumer.
But what is also true is that the health insurance companies basically wrote large sections of the health care reform law and health insurance company stocks rose when this new law was passed.
So why is this new law so good for health insurance companies?
Well, the new health care law requires all of us to purchase health insurance from them.
We are no longer going to have the choice of opting out of their system.
We are going to be forced to buy health insurance.
And since they are all raising rates, there is no escape from the pillaging.
As the new health care bill was being debated, Obama promised that the average American family would save $2,500 in yearly premiums under the new law.
If any of you still believe that claim I have got a bridge to sell you.
The Congressional Budget office says that yearly health insurance premiums are actually going to increase by about $2,300 each year as a result of the new law, but that estimate is probably far, far too low.
The truth is that rates are already shooting through the roof. Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article on Fox News....
Here is the terse reason CareFirst/Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Washington gave its subscribers for raising a monthly premium from $333 to $512 on a middle aged man who is healthy, is not a smoker and is not obese: "Your new rate reflects the overall rise in health care costs and we regret having to pass these additional costs on to you."
Could you afford to pay $512 a month for health insurance just for yourself?
Unfortunately, the truth is that this is nothing new. Many health insurance companies have been increasing health insurance premiums by double-digit percentages year after year after year even as they continue to reel in record profits.
In particular, health insurance companies seem to love to stick it to small businesses and the self-employed.
According to an article on the Mother Jones website, health insurance premiums for small employers increased 180% between 1999 and 2009.
The greed of the health insurance companies seems to know no bounds. For example, the 39% hike that Anthem Blue Cross sent some California customers last year made headlines across the nation. But executives defended the dramatic premium hikes as perfectly justifiable.
The reality is that health insurance is becoming so insanely expensive that millions of Americans can't even afford it anymore.
But thanks to the new health care law they are being forced to keep shelling out their hard-earned money for it.
It is getting really hard for anyone to deny that the health care system in the United States is deeply, deeply broken. The new health care law is not going to reduce costs. It is only going to help the health insurance companies continue to rake in obscene profits.
But wasn't the new health care law supposed to prevent the health insurance companies from abusing all of us?
Well, as it turns out, the new health care law does not give the federal government much regulatory power at all to prevent premium increases.
But what about the states?
Can't they do something?
Well, yes they can, but unfortunately most state legislatures have been bought off by the health insurance industry.
Since 2003, health insurance companies have shelled out more than $42 million in state-level campaign contributions.
That is a lot of money, and they wouldn't be spending that kind of money if they did not expect a return for it.
"The pressure that the industry can bring to bear in state legislatures is unbelievable," J. Robert Hunter, a former insurance commissioner in the state of Texas recently told the Los Angeles Times. "They pretty much get what they want."
The cold, hard reality is that health insurance companies are not in business to help people and provide affordable health care. They are in business to make money and they are very good at it.
But there are a few states that have stood up to the health insurance companies. States that have "prior approval" laws have been able to successfully fend off some of the over-the-top rate increases that health insurance companies have been trying to ram down the throats of consumers. For example, the Los Angeles Times recently reported on what has been happening in the state of Oregon....
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon was forced to cut back a proposed 26.4% increase in one of its individual plans to 17.3%. Other carriers were ordered to scrap altogether hikes as high as 20%.
Unfortunately, a number of these states that have these "prior approval" laws are now being sued by insurance companies.
That is how these folks work - they will either try to buy off politicians or they will keep filing lawsuits until they get what they want.
Meanwhile, the top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States received nearly $200 million in total compensation in 2009.
Are you upset yet?
You should be.
And you know what?
When it finally comes time to actually use your health insurance, these predators will do anything they can to get out of paying up.
In fact, it has been documented that some of the largest health insurance companies actually pay their employees large bonuses for denying claims. The employees who deny the most claims are the ones that get the largest bonuses.
The health care system in the United States is messed up beyond all recognition, and the new health care law has made things worse than ever. Americans pay more than anyone else in the world for health care, and all that we get in return is a system that is deeply, deeply broken.
If you have a health insurance horror story of your own, please feel free to share it in the comments section below....