Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health Insurers Are Not Your Friend

In the August 14, 2009 DC Examiner, Tim Carney reminds us that health insurance companies are not necessarily friends of the free market.

Here's an excerpt:
Dear conservatives:

Health insurance companies are not your friends. Keep opposing a new government-run insurer, a single-payer plan, and new regulations on the HMOs. But grant that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is correct on this: Insurance companies are villains.

Insurance companies lobby for big-government regulations, subsidies, mandates, and tax-code distortions that funnel them money, keep out competition, and stultify innovation. These policies preserve the employer-based health-care system that mocks the idea of free-market competition. Then they cry "unfair competition" when government threatens to encroach on their government-protected monopolies.

But they're not just lobbying against a government option. Today, health insurers are lobbying to force you and me to buy their product or face a tax hike (the individual mandate).

They are lobbying to force entrepreneurs to buy insurance for employees (the employer mandate). They are lobbying for more subsidies paid for by us taxpayers. In short, they are lobbying against regular people and against the free market...
(Read the full text of "Down With The Health Insurers".)

Carney makes an important point. Too often, insurance companies are advocates of more statist regulation (not less), as I argued in my piece, "Health Insurance Industry Sells Its Soul to the Devil".

Hence, it's important to defend the principle that insurance companies and patients have the right to contract in a free market without government interference, while simultaneously opposing any attempts by insurers to lobby for more government regulations that would violate that same right.

(Link to Carney OpEd via Brian Schwartz.)