By Rob Roper
Earlier this month the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) approved insurance rate hikes of 12.4% for Blue Cross Blue Shield and 10.1% for MVP. GMCB chairman Kevin Mullin admitted this is “unaffordable” for consumers, buuuut what ‘r’ ya’ gonna do? At what point will Vermonters (or everybody for that matter) wake up to the fact that allowing government involvement in health care is a very expensive mistake?
It will probably be a while because ratepayers, I suspect, aren’t as angry with the politicians as they are with the insurance companies, and this isn’t really fair.
Why is the cost of private insurance going up so much? According to VPR, “Mullin said the cost shift is the result of years of underfunding in the Vermont Medicaid program. Medicaid reimbursement rates, Mullin said, no longer come close to covering the cost of care for the low-income patients that qualify for the program,” which means those costs get shifted onto your BCBS or MVP bills — it’s a hidden, stealth tax on health care premiums the pols never have to levy or vote on.
This is as devious as it is unfair, but that’s sadly the objective: take your money to spend on programs (buy votes) without having to suffer accountability for taking your money (lose votes). It gets even worse because the anger being successfully deflected onto the insurance providers means the politicians get to campaign for greater power and regulation over those companies, which just perpetuates the problem. It’s brilliant. Evil, but brilliant.
Imagine if the headlines were more truthful: “Legislature approves 12% tax increase on private health insurance policies to subsidize Medicaid.” That might ripple through the public mindset a little differently and put pressure on politicians to actually fix the root cause of high high prices — themselves.
This is not to let the insurance companies completely off the hook. These 12.4% annual rate increases are pretty good compensation for taking a little heat, especially when the folks you’re taking the heat for vote to mandate that citizens buy your product.