What the Insurance Companies Want

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Always uneasy allies of reform, health insurance companies gave hints of turning against reform plans in October, while the administration used them as a scapegoat to whip up support among liberals. Now that a bill is in sight, what do the insurers want? Perhaps nothing, according to a new Goldman Sachs report. The analysis found that having no reform at all would be the best outcome for insurance companies' bottom lines. Liberals argue that report is more advocacy than analysis, since Goldman Sachs would profit from a health care defeat. Here are the best and worst case scenarios for the insurance industry:

  • Best: Do Nothing  Sam Stein of The Huffington Post reports on the report's favored option for insurance companies. "What the firm sees as the best path forward for the private insurance industry's bottom line is, to be blunt, inaction," he writes. "The study's authors advise that if no reform is passed, earnings per share would grow an estimated ten percent from 2010 through 2019, and the value of the stock would rise an estimated 59 percent during that time period."
  • Acceptable: The Senate Bill  At The Washington Post, Dan Eggen says the next best scenario for the industry is the more conservative bill in the Senate. He says insurance companies are flexing their muscles to make sure the Senate's version of health care reform emerges without a public option. "The health insurance industry has become a major foe of the White House and congressional Democrats, who frequently single out insurers as a key cause of rising health-care costs and the growing ranks of uninsured Americans. The industry is strongly opposed to the public insurance option contained in the House bill, which would create a government-run plan to compete with private insurers, and hopes to quash the idea in the more conservative Senate." Eggen reports that insurance companies like UnitedHealth Group are urging their employees to write letters to Senators asking them to drop the public option from the Senate bill.
  • Disaster: The House Bill  At Think Progress's Wonk Room, Igor Volsky says the House bill, complete with its public option, would be "the worst case scenario" for insurance companies, and would "produce revenue growth of just 2.4%, compared to 5.9% growth under the SFC and 6.2% growth without reform."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.