It's not just Warren Buffett and his Republican lieutenant Charlie Munger who favor single payer and view the US health insurance industry as a drag on national competitiveness and a needless expense on the bottom line: it's also companies like Walmart, Boeing, and GE, who have stopped paying insurers, buying services for their employees directly from hospitals and health-care providers.
Wendell Potter, the former vice president of communications for Cigna, has become a strong advocate for single-payer. He writes about how internal Cigna polls showed that "only 19 percent of Americans viewed insurers favorably" and "77 percent believed Congress 'should do something about the unreasonable cost of health insurance and other health care services.' More people favored a Canadian-style health care system than any other potential solution."
That was years ago, and the health insurance industry has only covered itself with shame since, so much so that the captains of industry who once stood by their executive breathern in Cigna's C-suite are now also ready to euthanize the whole sector.
The accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently provided fresh evidence of the tapeworm in action. PwC's Health Research Institute, which annually projects the growth of medical costs in the employer insurance market for the coming year, predicts medical costs will grow 6.5 percent in 2018, more than the rate of growth in 2017 and far more than the expected increase in the Consumer Price Index. By way of comparison, the CPI increased 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.
"With medical cost trend hovering between 6 and 7 percent for several years, health spending continues to outpace the economy," PwC's researchers wrote.
They went on to note that although the rate of growth in medical costs showed a temporary decline in recent years as insurers and employers shifted more of the cost of care to individuals and families, "further cost shifting to consumers is getting more difficult. Even the 'new normal' is not sustainable."
Even Business Leaders Are Realizing Health Insurance Companies Serve No Purpose
(Image: Nick Webb, CC-BY)