by Jonah Goldberg
When will the insurers revolt?
It's a question that's popping up more and more. On the surface, the question answers itself. We're talking about pinstriped insurance company executives, not Hells Angels. One doesn't want to paint with too broad a brush, but if you were going to guess which vocations lend themselves least to revolutionary zeal, actuaries rank slightly behind embalmers.
Still, it's hard not to wonder how much more these people are willing to take. Even an obedient dog will bite if you kick it enough. Since Obamacare's passage, the administration has constantly moved the goalposts on the industry. For instance, when the small-business mandate proved problematic in an election year, the administration delayed it, putting its partisan political needs ahead of its own policy and the needs of the industry.
But the insurers kept their eyes on the prize: huge guaranteed profits stemming from the diktat of the health insurance mandate. When asked how he silenced opponents in the health industry during his successful effort to socialize medicine, Aneurin Bevan, creator of the British National Health Service, responded, "I stuffed their mouths with gold."
Hence, the insurers were ready. They rejiggered their industry. They sent out millions of cancellation letters to customers whose plans no longer qualified under the new standards set by the Affordable Care Act. They told their customers to go to the exchanges to get their new plans.
But because President Obama promised Americans "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it," (PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year"), those cancellations became a political problem of Obama's own making.
In response, the president blamed it on the insurance companies or "bad apple" insurers.
Then, Health and Human Services Secretary
Of course, urging isn't forcing. But as
The irony, as
In other words, the insurers knew the administration never had their best interests at heart but got in bed with it anyway.
Articulating my sympathy for the insurance companies is difficult without the accompaniment of the world's smallest violin. But, still, I have to wonder, do those running these firms have no backbone whatsoever? I understand that the insurance companies have been consolidating into de facto utilities for decades. But they at least once mustered some passion for defending their status as private enterprises. Sure, they have obligations to shareholders, but their obligations do not end there. Can't one of them resign on principle and speak up? Or are their mouths so stuffed with gold that they couldn't get the words out even if they tried?
Maybe the best way to avoid such problems in the future is to demand that all reality-show casts be made up of professional actors. That way, reality will never disappoint us.