Few Conservatives would argue that an overhaul of America's healthcare system would be beneficial to private insurance companies. In fact, they'd tell you that private insurers won't be able to compete in the marketplace, with government reform ultimately leading to the demise of the private insurance sector. But that couldn't be any further from the truth. Consider Medicare and Medicaid. These government-run programs have been in place since 1965, yet profits have continued to soar in the private sector, so much so that healthcare has become an unattainable commodity for many Americans. A sad fact, but true nonetheless. And the reality of it is, that without some type of healthcare reform, private insurers won't be able to sustain much longer. Don't agree? Let's look at the facts.
Healthcare costs have skyrocketed over the last few decades. National health spending surpassed $2.2 trillion in 2007 and is expected to reach $4.4 trillion by 2018 -- far more than the $714 billion spent on healthcare just under 20 years ago. This spike in expenditures has made it increasingly difficult for employers to provide coverage for their employees and for those employees to afford coverage themselves. To counteract losses, employers are turning to consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) that would lower their own costs but raise costs for employees. Others are dropping healthcare coverage entirely. But those covered by employer-sponsored plans aren't the only ones suffering. A recent study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund found that 50% of adults with individual coverage have out-of pocket and premium costs that equal 10% or more of their income. And of adults who tried buying insurance on their own, 73% did not purchase a policy, simply because premiums were too high. If that trend continues, healthcare will only be affordable for the 1% of the population known as the wealthy -- hardly enough business for insurance companies to turn a profit.
What's left, then, if private insurers want to stay afloat, is to welcome reform with open arms -- whether it be a government-run initiative that will bring competition to the marketplace or an individual mandate that requires all Americans to obtain coverage. If things continue as is, it won't be the government that drives insurers out of business. It'll be their inordinate desire for wealth that will ultimately seal their fate.
Originally posted at RUSE the.magazine