Busy week, not up to speed on this - just tossing it out to see if anyone has an opinion. Good idea or bad?
I don't recall a thread about the topic here in the Alley. If there was and I missed it, then nevermind.
Repealing the Antitrust Exemption for Health Insurance Companies
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 4626 ó Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act
(Rep. Perriello, D-Virginia, and 65 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 4626. The repeal of the antitrust exemption in the McCarran-Ferguson Act as it applies to the health insurance industry would give American families and businesses, big and small, more control over their own health care choices by promoting greater insurance competition. The repeal also will outlaw existing, anti-competitive health insurance practices like price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation that drive up costs for all Americans. Health insurance reform should be built on a strong commitment to competition in all health care markets, including health insurance. This bill will benefit the American health care consumer by ensuring that competition has a prominent role in reforming health insurance markets throughout the Nation
And from the archives:
"Health Care for America Now's report [pdf] on insurance industry absuses documents how Blue Cross Blue Shield in Massachusetts and a big hospital made a deal to increase payments to providers, and providers made a deal to not allow any other insurer to pay them less. Thus, Blue Cross raised their rates, leading to a period of skyrocketing premium increases in Massachusetts, the hospital got rich off their locked in payments, and other hospitals and insurers in the state had to scramble to keep up. In all, people had to pay more, and those increased premiums were passed along to the hospitals in on the deal."
"Similarly, Health Care for America Now found that 94% of insurance markets in this country are "highly concentrated," a Department of Justice term that means these markets are at risk for monopoly. For example, in Arkansas [pdf], Blue Cross Blue Shield controls 75% of the market, a level of concentration that would raise anti-trust lawsuits in any other industry.
These kinds of market concentrations were caused by years of mergers, mergers that would never have been allowed under normal anti-trust rules. And this market concentration is a huge driver of skyrocketing costs.
Ending the anti-trust exemption would be a huge start towards ending these abuses.
The insurance industry needs two things: Real competition and an end to their anti-trust exemption.
Price fixing, backroom deals, collusion, and market-concentrating mergers should once again be illegal in health insurance. And we need a public health insurance option to ensure insurance companies follow the rules set out for them.
Anything less and we'll get more of what we have now - skyrocketing prices and anti-competitive dealmaking resulting in more medical bankruptcies for Americans."