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Commentary :: Politics : Social Welfare
States Compel Patronage of Private Insurance Business
09 Jan 2007
Mass. and now California, will compel everyone to give money and personal information to profit motivated businesses that have coporate duty to provide the least services for the most money.
Compulsory Patronage of Private Business

Of all the health plans being suggested and tried in attempts to fix the disastrous, homicidal, inhumane, abysmally costly current U.S. health system, the worst by far are the ones that compel or coerce citizens to purchase insurance from private, for-profit businesses. This monster has arisen in Massachusetts and California and is threatened perhaps everywhere.

That is, those who don’t or can’t get their health coverage elsewhere (Medicare, self-insurance, etc.) must shop, as if for a new weed-whacker, amongst the claims and promises and P.R. and sales staff of profit oriented insurance businesses in order to comply with the law and to avoid various penalties. Employers, with so much time to spare from their businesses, must also go shopping and deal with endless paperwork.

Such systems are said to be “affordable”, and that they “provide health care for all”, just two terms stolen from the Single Payer movement but re-defined to mean that big insurers and their investment properties will now get a windfall of something, instead of nothing, from the currently uninsured. If the poor can't afford this, no problem, the state will give our public tax dollars to private insurers for them.

On many counts, this is an unacceptable “solution” for the country’s health care problems.

* Those who follow health care deliberations condemn the waste due to redundancy of insurers and paperwork, the complex incomprehensibility of the system, and the privacy invasions for “life style” excuses. They condemn the expenses that are utterly non-health-related, such as advertising, CEO bonuses, campaign gifts, conventions, corporate jets, and even lawn care and furniture polish at insurers’ headquarters. These are things paid for by compulsory auto insurance as well…though few have asked what possible Public Interest can be shown for forcing drivers to pay for those extraneous things. The same can be asked by “health care consumers.”

* Insurers are the largest investment community on Wall Street. What was ostensibly a person’s health care money is funneled off to buy shares of various industries that many would not care to invest in, and that most don’t even know about. Insurance “customers” provide funds to invest in businesses that they may oppose for moral, religious, political or business reasons.
Anti-war activists may be unknowingly providing funds for investments in military contractors.
Fundamentalist religious persons may be providing investment money for whatever they oppose, be it sexy entertainments, “abortion pills”, stem cell research, or firms that recognize gay rights.
Progressives may be providing investment loot to prisons, union-busting firms, sweat shops, child labor, torture devices, weaponry, and all sorts of environmentally damaging industries.
Insurance “consumers” may be second-handedly investing in firms that are competitors to their own businesses or personal investment properties.

* Insurers may be invested in, or business insurers of, health-damaging industries, even those that might have caused a premium owner’s health problems. The tip of this iceberg was exposed by members of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Dr.s Himmelstein, Woolhandler and Boyd. Their work was published in JAMA and the British medical journal, The Lancet. It wasn’t hidden; it’s just unfortunately, even tragically, ignored in most quarters. It was about top U.S. “health” insurers’ multi-million dollar investments in none other than top Cigarette Manufacturers.
or search up phrases like “PNHP insurance tobacco” or the like.

What could be more of a discrediting embarrassment for such insurers than to be exposed as significant owners of the most condemned, vilified, scorned and hated industry on the planet? And this, even as they a) advise against using the very products they invest in, and b) refuse to insure (or charge more for) those who use those products.
If such insurers are Concerned About Our Health they don’t show this by any words or actions to remove carcinogenic, toxic, kid-attracting, addiction-enhancing and even fire-causing non-tobacco substances from cigarettes, or to even warn anyone about such things.
Of course they won’t do this; it would be a liability disaster for cigarette makers, their pesticide providers, chlorine in general (tobacco pesticides and bleached cigarette paper), the paper providers, additives suppliers, and the insurers themselves. They, and their allies in government regulatory agencies, prefer to pass 100% of blame for health problems to the well-demonized victims (for “smoking”), and to the “sinful”, unpatented, public-domain tobacco plant. Homicidal manufacturing techniques are not addressed.

If health insurers are invested in other health threatening/health damaging industries such as chlorine, pesticides, nukes, depleted uranium, mountaintop-removal mining, oil, combustion engines, mercury, emissions-producing synthetic fabrics, BGH-contaminated foods, asbestos, lead mining, etc., the information hasn’t yet been televised.

* If insurers are invested in, are insurers of, or have other economic links (shared board memberships, etc.) to health damaging industries, that insurer, and the professionals between it and a patient, have motive and even corporate duty to shareholders to hide or minimize, or not even look for, harms caused to patients by their investment properties. Imagine the burden on doctors working under the umbrella of these insurers. Their careers, at least, would be endangered if they exposed a liability problem for certain investments.
Such insurers, and subsidiaries and associates, etc., have motive and corporate duty to blame every non-industrial thing under (and including) the sun for a patient’s health problems. We are routinely told that illnesses are caused by too much sun, bad diet, insufficient exercise, faulty genes, insects, germs, plants (like tobacco), personal behavior, and that standby, the unknown. We are not routinely, or ever, tested for or asked about exposures to pesticides, chlorine chemicals, dioxins, radiation, synthetic materials, artificial sweeteners, heavy metals in foods, petroleum distillates, hormones and antibiotics in food, and so forth.

* If health insurers are invested in, or are insurers of, pharmaceutical firms, insurers have business motive and corporate duty to promote drugs made by their investment properties even though other drugs may be safer, cheaper and more effective. Such an insurer may promote its own property’s drugs even if they are not needed. Such a pharm-invested insurer may ignore, hide, or not look for harms caused by its own drugs. If one is hoping for proper health care administration by an owner of Snake-Oil Corp, one is hoping in vain. For an informed parent to send a child into such a system for health care is tantamount to child endangerment.
The profound cruelty here is…what options are there? People are given the “choice” of depending on this corrupted system in public or private facilities, traveling to a civilized country with a true public health system, or facing untreated illness, and death, and having their children do the same.

* The First Amendment prohibits compulsory speech except in extraordinary cases like grand juries or reporting child abuse. The Massachusetts and California health plan compels speech, from all, to private businesses. This is unlike auto-insurance laws where officials say that, well, no one is forced to drive...even though many pretty much have to drive in order to make a living, to get to schools and shops, to get to medical care, to be care givers and so on. The Supreme Court years back berserkly ruled that money is a form of speech---thus giving the wealthy billions more “words” than the rest of us. Residents of compulsory insurance states are to be compelled by government to speak to private insurers with both money and words. State officials might say, well…no one’s compelling you to live in that state. They could as well say you don’t have to live…period.

* The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee the right to Due Process. If a resident, resisting the Protection Racket aspects of this situation, does not hand over personal information and money to an insurer, and then challenges the penalty, can the case even be heard in a state where judges and jurors are likely patrons of private insurers? Due Process requires judges and jurors to withdraw if they have economic links to a party in the case.

* Insurers are not…yet…required to up-front reveal to customers what investments they own. The Right To Know is as ignored here as it is regarding ingredients of so many products. Information about where an insurer invests is publicly available at the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) via its EDGAR database…but that source is too complicated for all but the most skilled to navigate…if one even knows about it.

If a government is to make Private Insurance a de-facto agency of government, there can be no “trade secret” or other business-related excuses to keep compulsory customers in the dark about the nature of insurers’ investment and business insurance connections.

Those connections are patently unacceptable conflicts-of-interest. Sensible people, to comply with the laws, might seek out insurers that invest only in, say, organics, solar, hemp, natural vitamins and nutrients, and other benign industries. Since it is unlikely that such an insurer exists, the only remaining health care, and health protecting, option for a state or the entire country is a progressive tax-funded, public-administered system.

This work is in the public domain
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09 Jan 2007
Fascism is the merger of state and corporate power, so this should be expected. We, of course, should overthrow the fu**ers.