Health Care Insurers Still on Defensive
BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The debate over health care reform pitted Democrats against Republicans, progressives against the tea party -- and a whole lot of folks against health insurance companies.
A little more than a year after President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, those debates continue and health insurance plans remain in the cross-hairs.
|Health insurers remain in the political cross-hairs, but industry experts suggest there is some scapegoating going on.|
To be sure, there is plenty of ammunition for those with an anti-insurer bent. There are rescissions, denied treatments and multimillion-dollar executive salaries (even when an insurer is deemed a "nonprofit"). But can a case be made that insurance companies, blamed for rising costs both within and beyond their control, have been scapegoats?Consider the rhetoric of Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midst of the health care reform debate: "They are the villains in this," she said of insurance companies and their lobbying efforts. "They have been part of the problem in a major way. It's almost immoral, what they are doing. Of course, they've been immoral all along. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening, and the public has to know about it." One might ask, and the health insurance industry does, whether any other enterprise -- aside from, perhaps, oil companies -- has been so reviled for defending what it sees as in its best interest? "Going into this debate, if you asked families and consumers what their No. 1 health care concern was, it would be rising health care costs that were making it difficult for employers and families to be able to ensure coverage and taking a larger and larger share of their budgets," says Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a national association representing nearly 1,300 companies, including Aetna (AET), Cigna (CI), Humana (HUM) and United Health Group (UNH). "Unfortunately,
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