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February 12, 2008

New Study on Individual California Health Insurance Mandates

Behind the escalating debate on the health care between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on individual mandate – she’s for it, he’s against it – is a critical policy battle that not only cuts across healthcare reform but also the neo-liberal privatization dreams, the home mortgage crisis, and the recession that is no longer looming, it’s here.

Sound farfetched? Take a closer look, starting with the millions of Americans staring at the loss of their homes due to the subprime loan debacle. It’s not a loan or a mortgage crisis for those families; it’s a debt crisis being forced upon them by the banks, hedge funds, and some California insurers who are desperate to shift their own mammoth debt onto someone else.

Banking, other financial institutions, insurance and real estate which make up the finance sector, now account for about half of U.S. corporate profits. And, they are in trouble with more than $2.5 trillion in outstanding consumer credit, $800 billion of that in credit card debt, and another $10.1 trillion in domestic mortgage debt.

Being thrifty won’t solve that problem. The financial planners have identified two lucrative pots of money. Trading carbon credits for industries and employers that want to brand themselves as green while continuing to pollute. And, making a killing in healthcare premiums, currently 16 percent of our national economic pie and rapidly growing.

The banks are already into healthcare in a big way, serving as a repository for health savings accounts and other tax credit schemes so beloved by the Bush administration and the Republican presidential candidates. But the financiers would like more.

Enter the neo-liberal think tanks and policy wonks and plans they hawk to expand the reach of the market, especially the financial market, in health care. Central to that approach is shotgun insurance, forcing everyone not currently covered to buy health insurance policies.

Compelling people to buy insurance, however, is not the easiest sell. Big insurers and HMOs have a well deserved bad reputation for heartless denials of care – that’s how they make money. And, it’s pricey. Premiums the past decade have gone up 87 percent, not to mention the ever climbing bills for insurance deductibles, co-pays, and a host of other transaction fees.

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Posted by healthinsurance at February 12, 2008 02:08 PM