Our top private health insurer is rolling in cash. And it’s reducing coverage
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UnitedHealth Group, parent of UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest private health insurer, earned $15.4 billion in profit last year. It took in more than $9 billion in profit during the first half of this year.
So what does a well-heeled insurer do amid such a windfall? It seeks to reduce people’s coverage, of course.
The insurer won’t cover nonemergency treatment at non-network facilities outside a policyholder’s service area, which is defined as your state of residence and adjoining states.
This change mainly affects UnitedHealthcare members who want to travel to residential treatment facilities, rehabilitation clinics and other nonhospital healthcare providers.
Which is to say, if you’re a UnitedHealthcare member and you need rehab for any reason, you’d better stay in network and you’d better stick close to home. Otherwise, you’ll be footing the bill yourself.
Coverage networks might save insurers a few bucks, but they’re not in the best interest of patients, who should be free to seek the best possible care from the best-qualified doctor or hospital.
Nor, for that matter, should people’s coverage be tethered to their jobs. Lose your job, lose your health insurance — what the hell kind of system is that?
We know from the experience of other developed countries that [insurance risk management] is done most effectively by creating a single risk pool comprising the entire population, and then having a single government program handle all claims consistently, fairly and transparently.
Studies have shown that the taxes paid into such a single-payer system — Medicare for all, say — would be less than the premiums, copays and deductibles that now constitute most out-of-pocket medical expenses for Americans.
Comment by Don McCanne of PNHP: UnitedHealth Group has demonstrated that it has mastered its ability to increase profits by not paying for health care services. They are serving their corporate shareholders at a cost to their customers, aka patients.
Contrast this private insurer function to what the role of a publicly financed and publicly administered insurer would be. Passive insurer shareholders and profits would play no role. The goal would be to pay for necessary health care services, not avoid them.
Even David Lazarus – the Business Correspondent for the LA Times – sees what UnitedHealth Group does and in response sings the praises of single payer.
Based on Rick Pollack’s comments, the American Hospital Association should be a valuable team member in our efforts to achieve health care justice for all.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
July 26, 2021 at 1:37 AM #437007Two way streetParticipant
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How many will die? Establishment seems Hell Bent on reducing the older population one way (COVID) or the other denying emergency room care which may lead to hospitalization. No wonder hospitals are opposed. And would doctors be liable for law suites?
Joe and the Dept. of Health and Human Services needs to do something.
2020-2024 Campaign Season: We the People are in the fight for our lives and livelihoods.
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