The Big Insurance corporations have been on quite a spending spree lately, throwing money around like there's no tomorrow (and for them, there shouldn't be.) Their recent purchases include: AARP, banks, and leading Democratic political consultants—which should make you worry. This nation isengaged in a fundamental debate over the future of healthcare, and the one group that nobody is listening to is patients. Let's a take a look at what they're up to...
Purchase 1: AARP; Cost: $1.5 Billion
For the last 50 years, AARP has existed to sell insurance policies to seniors. They took a much more partisan turn when Bill Novelli, a Republican insider with ties to George Bush, took over the organization. Now AARP is on the move to strengthen their ties with insurance corporations—and to strengthen those corporations in return. First we learn that they have a new plan to make $1.5 billion in royalties by selling Medicare Advantage plans to seniors. Yes that's a "B" and yes those are care dollars they're skimming. Now, compromised by this treasure, word comes that AARP is supporting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to force every Californian to buy private health insurance. Why wouldn't they? They get a cut. And patients pay the price. Sigh.
Purchase 2: Banks and Credit cards; Cost: none.
Blue Cross is starting a bank for its customers and Cerner is about to offer a credit card. Is it just me--or is this idea completely terrifying? Half of all medical bankruptcies are due to medical debt, and now Blue Cross wants people to bank there? So they can just reach into your account and take what they need? People are already incredibly dependent on their insurers, and this will make them more so. (PS—Blue Cross just settled a suit with 900,000 doctors claiming it defrauded them; but I’m sure they’ll be a perfectly trustworthy bank.)
Purchase 3: Democratic political operatives; cost: cheap
One of the reasons that politicians are so timid on healthcare is because most of the Washington insiders who work on campaigns take money from heathcare corporations on the side. Latest example? Dewey Square Group, who helped run John Kerry’s and other campaigns, now have the insurance industry trade group as a major client. They’re using their clout to strongarm Democratic politicians into supporting “Medicare Advantage,” which gives insurers an 11% bonus for offering Medicare.
While our healthcare debate is raging, all this means that the insurance corporations are steadily amassing more money, power, and influence. There’s only one thing they’re scared of: you.