Some have accurately, and justifiably observed that the Affordable Care Act, also colloquially known as “ObamaCare,” is a big fat, sloppy wet kiss to the Big Insurance industry and their for-profit, Wall $treet corporate masters, because their profits have continued to soar since it’s inception. Note that UnitedHealth Group reported a profit of $11 billion (on revenues of more than $157 billion) in 2015, up from $10.3 billion (on revenues of $131 billion) in 2014. Consider also how Anthem’s business changed in just one recent year. At the end of 2014, the majority of Anthem’s revenues still came from its Commercial Health Insurance customers. During 2015, however, revenues from their commercial operations actually declined 4.2%, to $37.6 billion, while revenues from their government operations skyrocketed 21%, to $40.1 billion. A significant reason why, is because of the big investments Insurance Companies continue to make in House and Senate campaigns. As a result, the Insurance Industry’s tentacles will likely only get deeper into both the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
And if insurance costs aren’t enough of a crisis, researchers are highlighting deficiencies in health care quality, such as unnecessary tests and procedures that cause patient harm, medical errors bred by disjointed or fragmented care and disparities in service distribution.
While critics emphasize the ACA’s shortcomings, cost and quality issues have long plagued the U.S. health care system. As my research demonstrates, we have these problems because insurance companies are at the center of the system, where they both finance and manage medical care.
If this system is so flawed, how did we get stuck with it in the first place?
Answer: Organized physicians.
As I explain in my book, “Ensuring America’s Health: The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Care System,” from the 1930s through the 1960s, the American Medical Association, the foremost professional organization for physicians, played a leading role in implementing the insurance company model.
What existed before health insurance companies?
Between the 1900s and the 1940s, patients flocked to what were called “prepaid physician groups,” or “prepaid doctor groups.”
Prepaid groups offered inexpensive health care because Read the rest of this entry »