I was on a conference call about health reform today, and all the major insurance companies were on it as well. Here’s one signature moment that defines how insurers are aiming to neuter health reform by making outrageous demands, lobbying regulators just as hard as they lobbied Congress to weaken the legislation (remember the murder of the ‘public option?’)
The call today was about regulations being proposed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, to enable a part of the bill that demands more efficiency from insurance companies. It requires that insurers spend more on actual health care and less on bloated CEO salaries, other overhead and profit. The companies will be required to spend 80% to 85% of your premium dollars on health care. But what’s the definition of health care?
Insurers want to throw in everything including the kitchen sink (or at least the property tax on the sink) to avoid having to make any efficiency changes at all.
On today’s call, the insurance company folks argued that they should be able to count property taxes on their lavish headquarters and private jets in the health care column. Maybe local public school fees, too. Say what?
A few of the NAIC people expressed some mild doubts but said they’d think about it. None of them just said "Are you nuts? Get outta here!"
That, of course, is what worries us about having the quasi-private and insurer-financed NAIC writing the proposed regulations. And why we’re pushing the federal regulators, at the Department of Health and Human Services, to look at the proposals with extreme skepticism.
What bothers me about the call is what I missed. Most of it was about various classes of loss reserves. I’m sure there was some artful deceit included there, too. I can only hope the actuaries and accountants at the federal level understand the financial arts better than I do.