Good points made here with the consolidation of carriers...as there appear to be fewer to choose from on the horizon in view of all the recent mergers, we are seeing a "lack" of competition and less health care for individuals with a more complex and diversified set of rules and regulations imposed, just to get health care...we all know what happens with lack of competition, so should the insurers be "regulated"? If our power, gas, and phone companies were not regulated to some degree, we could also have outrageous premiums and conditions to work with...why does health insurance have a free reign to pass along increases without a public hearing...especially when profits are so ominous? Could health insurance be regulated with public hearings before rates are increased? Something to ponder...BD
Oct. 25, 2007 -- Statement of William G. Plested, MD, Immediate Past President: Thank you, Madame Chair (ranking member, Chabot) and members of the Committee on Small Business. My name is Bill Plested. I am the Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association and a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon from Santa Monica, California. I want to thank you for inviting me to testify today and for holding a hearing on this important issue health insurer consolidation.
.........Physicians’ ability to perform either of these vital functions, however, has been severely compromised by growing consolidation in the for-profit health insurance market. This consolidation has left physicians with little leverage against unfair contract terms that deal with patient care and little control over their own employees rising health insurance premiums......The United-Sierra merger would give United 94 percent of the HMO market in Clark County and 80 percent of the HMO market in the entire state of Nevada.
“Consolidation is not benefiting patients. Health insurers are posting record high profits, while patient health insurance premiums continue to rise. In fact, United and WellPoint have had seven years of consecutive double-digit profit growth that has ranged from 20 to 70 percent year-over-year.