Does the health insurance industry want to kill healthcare reform? That’s the question after the industry sponsored a report showing how premiums will rise substantially because of certain aspects of reform legislation (see prior post). My feeling is that the industry — led by America’s Health Insurance Plans — isn’t out to kill reform, but rather to address what it perceives as its shortcomings. Still, if AHIP really wanted to kill reform, Carl McDonald of Oppenheimer has a few suggestions (from a research note he published Oct. 17).
We’re not in advertising, but it really doesn’t seem like it would be all that challenging to put together a half-dozen 30-second spots to blanket each TV station in the country for a couple weeks that would make every reasonable person in the country very, very fearful of health reform and what Congress is doing. One spot, which AHIP has already begun airing in certain markets, would talk to seniors and explain to them that Medicare rates are being cut, and will result in reduced benefits and more money out of their pockets, and close with the very sensible question of why Congress believes that it’s right to take money from seniors and use it to fund health care coverage for the rest of the population. In another ad, we’d appeal to the middle class, highlighting how much in additional taxes the middle class will end up paying to fund the reduction in the uninsured. It’s always good to have a more thematic approach, too, perhaps focusing on the fact that 25 million people will still be uninsured even after we spend close to a trillion dollars, and calculating how much we’re spending for every person that will gain access to coverage. And so on.
Combine the health insurance industry advertising with the media blitz that a number of unions have launched against the Cadillac tax on high cost plans that the unions despise because of the large number of their members that would be impacted, and the unease that the hospital industry is feeling right now because of the evisceration of the individual mandate that occurred over the last couple weeks, and it means that we could be in for a few testy and highly charged weeks ahead.