As I noted at the time, despite the outrage (and threats) it provoked from Democrats, that notorious health-insurance lobby report suggesting that health-insurance premiums would go up after the passage of health-care reformwas not actually intended to kill reform. Instead, the intent was to push Congress to make the individual mandate — the requirement that everyone buy the insurer's product — stronger. Here's Karen Ignagni, the head honcho at AHIP, the health-insurance group that put out the report, making the health-insurance industry's case:
Health plans continue to strongly support reform. In fact, last year we proposed new insurance market rules and consumer protections to achieve universal coverage, remove restrictions on preexisting conditions and end the practice of basing premiums on health status or gender.
Some have questioned the timing of the report's release. AHIP commissioned the report Sept. 29, as it became clear that the Finance Committee would gut the requirement that all individuals obtain coverage.
I have no issue with people who take issue with the methodology of the report; it looked rather fishy to me. But the idea that AHIP was trying to take down the reform bill is just absurd.
And while we're on the topic of Ignagni's op-ed, it's worth addressing another section. She writes:
The report's central finding has long been noncontroversial in health policy and economic circles: namely, that implementing reforms of the insurance market without a strong requirement that everyone participate will cause adverse selection and significantly increase costs for individuals and small businesses.
Well, it's certainly true that insurance market reforms like guaranteed issue and community rating have a long history of driving up insurance premiums. And it's also true that the insurance industry has for years pushed the idea that those reforms are only workable with a strong mandate. But, as I've pointed out before, the mandate isn't necessarily a cure-all. Massachusetts, the one state with a mandate, has the highest health-insurance premiums in the nation, and even supporters are worried that public health-care costs are rising so quickly that they may threaten the continued existence of the state's universal-insurance system.