Tuesday, March 15, 2016

qotd: Hillary Clinton on high insurance premiums

March 13, 2016
CNN TV One Democratic Presidential Town Hall
Hillary Clinton Part

QUESTION (from Teresa O'Donnell, an office coordinator from Powell,
Ohio): I have voted for Obama, and then my health insurance skyrocketed
from $409 a month to $1,090 a month for a family of four. I know Obama
told us that we would be paying a little more, but doubling – over
doubling my health insurance cost has not been a little more. It has
been difficult to come up with that kind of payment every month. I would
like to vote Democratic, but it's cost me a lot of money, and I'm just
wondering if Democrats really realize how difficult it's been on working
class Americans to finance Obama care.


HILLARY CLINTON: Wow, Thank you for asking me that, because. May I ask
you, before you were buying your family health insurance in the
individual family market? Were you getting it through the employer? How
were you insured before?

QUESTION: I was purchasing it privately, because we both had bouts of

CLINTON: So you were going to a broker and buying a health insurance


CLINTON: And in effect, it nearly tripled after you went on to the
exchange and bought a policy under the Affordable Care Act, is that right?

QUESTION: We could not do that. It was much more expensive than just
purchasing private insurance from the insurance company.

CLINTON: So you are still buying private insurance directly?


CLINTON: OK. Well, first of all, let me say I want very much to get
the costs down, and that is going to be my mission, because I do think
that for many, many people, but there are exceptions like what you are
telling me, having the Affordable Care Act has reduced costs, has
created a real guarantee of insurance, because if you'd had a
pre-existing condition under the old system, you wouldn't have gotten
affordable insurance.

So it has done a lot of really good things, but, it has become
increasingly clear that we are going to have to get the costs down. And
what I would like to see happen for you and your family is that if we
can get the co-pays down, the deductibles down, get the prescription
drug costs under control, that you would find an affordable plan on your

And one thing that I would like you to do, and I'm not saying it's going
to make a difference, but I would like you to just go shopping on that
exchange. As I understand it, Ohio has the federal exchange, is that
right, Joyce? Because they did not set up a state exchange.

So you have the federal exchange. And to go on and keep looking to see
what the prices are, because we have to get more competition back into
the insurance market. One thing that I want to work on with my friends
from Congress who are here is we've got to get more non-profits that are
capable of selling insurance back into the insurance market.

You know, Blue Cross and Blue Shield used to be non-profits. And then
they transferred themselves into for-profit companies. And there was
some effort made under the Affordable Care Act to get some competition
from non-profit institutions, some of them worked and a lot of them didn't.

I want to know what we can do, because if you could get a range of
insurers, some of who were not-for-profit companies, that would lower

So there is a number of things I am looking at. And what I want to
assure you and your family of is I will do everything I can as
president, working with members of Congress where necessary, to try to
get the costs down.

But I do want you to keep shopping, because what you are telling me is
much higher than what I hear from other families, and so I want to be
sure that if there is a better option out there for you, you're going to
be able to take advantage of it.

And then I'll work as hard as I can to get the costs down for everybody,
and that includes prescription drug costs, which are skyrocketing and
increasing costs for everything else.




Comment by Don McCanne

Hillary Clinton says that one of her proposals is to bring health care
costs down. This town hall exchange is significant because it reveals
the depth, or lack thereof, as to how she might accomplish this.

She says that she would lower co-pays and deductibles. But the question
was about high premiums, and the market is using higher deductibles and
other cost sharing to lower premiums. Lowering deductibles will cause
higher premiums, not lower.

She says that we need more non-profit insurers like Blue Cross and Blue
Shield used to be. But if you compare premiums in California for
for-profit Anthem Blue Cross and non-profit Blue Shield, they are the
same. The non-profit insurers share the same inefficiencies and
administrative excesses as the for-profits.

She says that she wants more competition in the exchanges so that less
expensive plans will be available for diligent shoppers, but, again,
lower premiums are possible only by reducing coverage - higher
deductibles, less accessible narrower networks, etc.

Private plans competing in the marketplace is what we already had before
the Affordable Care Act was passed. We merely continued the same system.
Adding exchanges did very little except to enable the administration of
subsidies and credits for lower-income individuals. For those not
eligible for government subsidies and credits, nothing was done to
control the very high costs of health care and the insurance products
that pay for that care.

Unfortunately, Hillary's proposal is more of the same. Perpetuate the
fiction of lower prices through competition while manipulating the
insurance products to have either lower premiums or poorer coverage. In
fact, included in ACA is the excise tax (Cadillac tax) which is designed
to prevent the marketing of full benefit plans. Making health care less
affordable through greater out-of-pocket cost exposure is the exact
opposite of where Clinton says she wants to take us. The problem is that
the current financing infrastructure will not allow us to go there.

If we want affordable care for everyone, we need a single payer improved
Medicare-for-all which will control costs and make the financing more

/Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is a nonpartisan
educational organization. It neither supports nor opposes any candidates
for public office./

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