Posted on | July 10, 2012 | 9 Comments
Is it a tax or a penalty? What are the politics? How will it affect the election? Is John Roberts a savior or a traitor? Blah, blah, blah.
If you want to know what the Obamacare ruling really means, look past all those cable news blab-fest talking points and turn to page B7 of the Business Section in the New York Times. There you will find a funny little story about corporate health insurance behemoth WellPoint and their $4.9 billion monopoly move to acquire Amerigroup, a big player in the Medicaid business. As the article points out, the ratification of so-called Obamacare by Roberts and Co. was the predicate for this merger and is likely to catalyze the “increasing consolidation” of the health insurance industry. In other words, one of the most profitable sectors of the US economy is going to see even more monopolization as profiteers position themselves to reap the guaranteed revenue coming from this government mandated and, quite often, taxpayer-funded market now cemented into law by the black-robed bricklayers of the Supreme Court. If you thought Citizens United was good for corporations, wait until you see what these corporate “caregivers” get outta this deal.
The most troubling assessment and the creepiest language comes from Edward Kaplan, a senior vice president of a financial lamprey that makes its money advising the sharks teeming in the chum-filled water of corporatized health care. Projecting the near-term outlook of the Medicaid as a profit-producing paradigm, Kaplan stated, “Fifteen to 20 million lives will be up for grabs in 2014, and WellPoint wants some of those lives.” Has it ever been stated more clearly than that? It is what happens when the profit motive becomes the prime motive for health care. In fact, it is why we have “health insurance” instead of “health care.”
Insurance is a bet. A bet that they can make more money off of you than they spend on you. That’s the health insurance game, in a nutshell. Health care, on the other hand, is just what it sound like, the process of caring for the health of people. No games. No bets. And the health insurance business placed its bet on Obamacare. They did not spend wildly to defeat it. Either it would lose, and their gravy train would remain intact. Or it would win, and they’d do what they are doing now…position the gravy train to make a stop at the US Treasury. Like so many corporate bets placed on Capitol Hill, they couldn’t lose. The only no-win scenario was a single-payer system, or some version of Medicare For All. But the fix was in almost as soon as Obama was in the White House.
While pundits on “the Left” moan and groan about Obama’s capitulation to Congress on single-payer, the simple, logical conclusion is that it never really had a chance. Not with those big corporate kingmakers looming just beyond the teleprompters. Like the consolidation frenzy led by “Too-Big-To-Fail” banks in the two years after the Great Financial Crash of 2008, the health care “overhaul” is really just another artfully-hedged bet at the expense of us all.
So, once the Affordable Care Act kicks in, expect there to have been a lot more “consolidation” and more profit-certainty factored into the bottom lines of the big insurance companies. They have a captive market. We will all be mandated to buy their products. And if we cannot afford it? Taxpayers will fill the trough.
You see, that’s what this really is…it’s not a tax or a penalty. It’s a trough. Like the defense industry and the prison industry, the health insurance industry is getting its very own trough of taxpayer money, filled with annual regularity and with very little chance of ever being cut-off. And that is, perhaps, the threshold an industry must cross before it truly becomes an “industrial complex.”
The Military-Industrial Complex has that national security lever it pulls and pulls and pulls, and the taxpayer machine spills and fills the trough. The Prison-Industrial Complex has the War on Drugs and the media’s “it bleeds, it leads” mantra to keep those state and federal dollars coming. And now big health insurance finally has a guaranteed source of money to fill a government-mandated trough. And like the other industrial complexes, it is questionable whether health care, like war and prisons, should be governed by the profit motive.
It has arrived. Welcome to the Health Insurance-Industrial Complex. So long, single-payer health care, we hardly knew ya.Tweet