There are days when the idea of private health insurance companies
running health reform are more ludicrous than others. Today, we find
that health insurance CEOs are raking in ever-higher compensation–up
to $110 million a year for one retiring CEO. This is obviously where a
lot of our ever-rising premium dollars are going.
Leaders of Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna
received nearly $200 million in compensation in 2009, according to a
report, while the companies sought rate increases as high as 39%.
The next time an insurance company blames double-digit premium
increases entirely on the rising cost of health care, you know where to
file that lie.
Insurance companies also shelling out big to
keep things going their way, without any of pesky government
interference. Their lobbying bill in Congress is in the tens of
millions. But money goes further in state legislatures. In California’
state Senate along, insurance companies have shelled out $800,000 in
direct contributions to a relative handful of lawmakers. The biggest
issue for insurers is stopping a bill that would regulate their rates–and examine executive compensation.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial today makes the connection between insurer money and political pressure clear–and is just as clear in saying that lawmakers owe it to Californians to pass regulation.