A Quick N’ Handy Guide For Confronting AHIP Reps At Obama’s Health Care Meetings

The New York Times is reporting that the health insurance industry is encouraging employees and ‘satisfied customers’ to attend President-elect Obama’s health care meetings:

When supporters of President-elect Barack Obama hold house parties to discuss ways of fixing the health care system over the next two weeks, they may find some unexpected guests. The health insurance industry is encouraging its employees and satisfied customers to attend….The meetings, originally envisioned as a way to make good on Mr. Obama’s commitment to “health care reform that comes from the ground up,” could thus turn into living-room lobbying sessions involving some of the biggest stakeholders in the health care industry.

There’s nothing wrong with some healthy debate. The danger comes when the health insurance industry co-opts progressive messaging to convince attendees that everyone is really on the same page about reform and that the industry really wants to provide everyone with affordable insurance coverage.

Since insurance companies will likely conflate universal coverage with affordable coverage and resist cost-containment measures that could undermine industry profits, below is a quick and handy guide for unraveling industry spin:


What They’ll SayWhat They MeanThe federal government should subsidize coverage on a sliding scale up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.The federal government should subsidize our outrageous premiums, that way we don’t have to take a hair cut.If every American is required to purchase health insurance coverage, we’ll provide everyone with coverage.If everyone is forced to buy coverage from us, we’ll keep the profits.Congress should set a target of 300% reduction in future growth. But we don’t want to compete with a more efficient public option, use bargaining power to negotiate cheaper rates for services, or charge everyone reasonable premiums.Low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates shift costs to private payers. A new public program similar to Medicare would exacerbate cost-shifting.We assume that all payers should pay the same rates and the the total level of payments to providers is appropriate, refuse to gain volume discounts and restrain total spending. We prefer to pass on rising costs to individuals and increasing our profitability.