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Free-market capitalism is the dominant form of economic organization worldwide, but it is not a perfect system. Unhindered, privately owned companies organized for maximum profit will produce large disparities in income and wealth, damage the environment and exploit consumers. Government intervention is necessary, otherwise, for example, we get rivers that burst into flame, like the Ohio Cuyahoga River in 1969, which caught fire because of rampant pollution. The fire inspired Congress to pass the 1970 National Environment Policy Act. Today, Cuyahoga is home to 60 different species of fish and much recreational beauty.
Insurance companies are no different.
The profit motive is alive and healthy for insurers. The 2018 Annual Health Insurance Industry Analysis Report stated that “the health insurance industry continued its tremendous growth trend as it experienced a significant increase in net earnings to $23.4 billion and an increase in the profit margin to 3.3% in 2018, compared to net earnings of $16.1 billion and a profit margin of 2.4% in 2017”. Most insurers offer several lines of coverage to minimize financial hazard, so I wouldn’t start singing “don’t cry for me Argentina” for the industry just yet.
Private companies should not be in the business of maximizing profits on health care. Nor should they determine doctors, procedures, reimbursement rates, copays or deductibles, which they do, based on a for-profit paradigm. It is immoral. Health care is a necessity, yet ours remains the most expensive system in the industrialized world with the worst health outcomes.
We need a single-payer system, which countries from Canada to Israel have been doing successfully forever. We need a system like Medicare…. for All. We put men on the moon under a span of 10 years. We already have a Medicare system in place. It is not impossible to do this and past time to get the profit out of illness.
Deborah A. Baro