Washington Post Destroys Insurance Lobby's Propaganda

The Washington Post is often terrible. But credit where it's due: today David Hilzenwrath dives into some industry blather in an article headlined, "Health Insurance Industry Spins Data in Fight Against Public Plan." There's no contrived balance -- it's the kind of reporting that makes for good journalism and a functional democracy:


The industry that helped scuttle health reform 15 years ago with its "Harry and Louise" ads is back, voicing support for a central element of the Obama administration's plans: making sure everyone is covered.

That does not mean the industry is backing the administration. Indeed, the leader of the insurance lobby has sent lawmakers a message: Be careful what you change, because "77 percent of Americans are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage."

Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), invoked the statistic to argue against the creation of a government-run insurance option. But the polls are not that simple, and her assertion reveals how the industry's effort to defend its turf has led it to cherry-pick the facts.

The poll Ignagni was citing actually undercuts her position: By 72 to 20 percent, Americans favor the creation of a public plan, the June survey by the New York Times and CBS News found. People also said that they thought government would do a better job than private insurers of holding down health-care costs and providing coverage.

In addition, data from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last year, compiled at the request of The Washington Post, suggest that the people who like their health plans the most are the people who use them the least.

Those who described their health as "excellent" -- people who presumably had relatively little experience pursuing medical care or submitting claims -- were almost twice as likely as those in good, fair or poor health to rate their private health insurance as excellent ...

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