Things That Make You Go Hmmm — October 23, 2009 at 6:55 am

Methinks the health insurance cos. doth protest too much


This week Democrats in both houses of Congress started down the road of stripping exemption from antitrust laws from the health insurance industry.

This has them all adither.

From the Associated Press:

Responding to the day’s developments, the industry said the legislation was based on a misperception of existing law. “We believe that health insurers have not been engaging in anticompetitive conduct and that McCarran-Ferguson does not provide a shield for such conduct,” Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of American’s Health Insurance Plans, wrote to Rep. John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Houses Judiciary Committee.

“Thus, the bills attempt to remedy a problem that does not exist,” she wrote.

Really? Then why would this legislation bother you? Methinks thou doth protest too much.

During the debates over the Patriot Act, we heard time and again that people who aren’t doing anything wrong have nothing to worry about. Not plotting against the government? Not engaging in terrorist activities? Then you have nothing to worry about if the federal government snoops on your private phone conversations or emails. Not breaking any laws? Then you have nothing to worry about with those laws, right?

So, why complain then, if the health insurance industry claims they aren’t engaging in collusion, price setting, market allocation and other anticompetitive conduct? Why would they care if Congress passes laws stopping them from doing things they claim they aren’t doing?

I can’t be sure but it hasn’t stopped them from caring or complaining:

AHIP, Washington, has written to the leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees to oppose S. 1681 and H.R. 3596, bills that seek to roll back the antitrust exemption provisions of the McCarran-Ferguson Act for health and medical malpractice insurers.

And this, from Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association:

This bill would completely disrupt the industry’s business environment and create substantial legal uncertainty and unnecessary litigation. Any repeal of McCarran will undercut the primary purpose of antitrust laws, which are designed to promote market competition free from government or private interference.

Boy, talk about protesting too much…

Senator Leahy agrees with me:

“Insurers should not object to being subject to the same antitrust laws as everyone else. If they are operating in an appropriate way, they should have nothing to fear. It is time for Congress to stick up for consumers, rather than roll over for the insurance industry.”

Well said, Senator, well said.

So, again, why are they complaining about a law preventing them from doing what they say that are NOT doing?

I think we all know the answer to that one. Typically, when someone complains this vociferously about being asked to stop doing something they claim they aren’t doing, in reality, they’re doing it.

And it would be nice if they’d (a) stop lying about it and (b) stop “doing it” to us.

In other words:

[Graphic by Eclectablog]

I’m just sayin’…