Big Insurance Reverses Course and Launches Attack on Health Reform

I guess the insurance industry finally decided they weren't going to get the kind of sweetheart deals that PHarma and the Hospitals got, so they've gone on the warpath by holding a gun to ... er ... releasing a "cost projection" report about the effects of health care reform. I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that it says they will raise premiums sky high if reforms are passed.

Frankly, I wouldn't expect any less of them. They will raise premiums sky high even if reforms don't pass. They always have before. Indeed, the only thing that kept them in check at all over the past 20 years was a roaring stock market, which allowed them to make huge profits while only gouging their customers at about 15% inflation. Lately, they've had no choice but to jack that up and gouge the sick customers even more. They are, after all, profit driven corporations .

This report today, however, signals that the industry is ready to go to war to stop health care reform. Ezra characterizes it properly:

In the hallowed tradition of the tobacco and energy industries, the health insurance industry has commissioned a report (pdf) projecting doom and despair for those who seek to reform its business practices. The report was farmed out to the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has something of a history with this sort of thing: In the early-'90s, the tobacco industry commissioned PWC to estimate the economic devastation that would result from a tax on tobacco. The report was later analyzed

by the Arthur Andersen Economic Consulting group, which concluded that "the cumulative effect of PW’s methods … is to produce patently unreliable results." It's perhaps no surprise that the patently unreliable results were all in the tobacco industry's favor. He who pays the piper names the tune, and all that.

All that makes it a bit hard to respond to this analysis. Seriously engaging with its methodology probably gives it more credit than it deserves, making this seem like an argument between two opposing sides as opposed to a predictable industry hit job. But totally ignoring its claims means some of them might live unchallenged. So rather than a full tour through the "analysis," here are a couple of its more representative moments.

Read on.

So why now? Well, this may be a clue:

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