Sibelius defends the indefensible

Originally published September 28, 2010 @ American Thinker.


Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius writes an utterly unconvincing retort to charges of thuggery in her threats to health insurance companies, in today’s Wall Street Journal. What is amazing about this display is that she doesn’t use the space provided to defend her actions, but to attack and demonize the private health care insurance industry. Sebelius’s writing is entirely unconvincing and riddled with faulty logic.


Sebelius: “Over the past decade, Americans have seen what happens when insurance companies have free rein”


Currently insurance companies are regulated by both state and federal agencies. Nearly 50% of every healthcare dollar that is spent is controlled by the federal government. What Sebelius calls “free rein” is in truth attempting to compete in a partially socialized and one of the most heavily regulated industries in America.


Sebelius: “The cost of health insurance has more than doubled”


There are several drivers increasing the cost health insurance costs, here are 3 of the big ones. Current Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover the costs of the care provided to patients that are in those plans. That means that health care providers have to make up those un-recouped expenses by charging more to individuals that have private insurance. The program that Sebelius is defending exacerbates the problem.


The other drivers to health insurance cost are demographics and, ironically, good health care. The baby boomers are entering their 60s and people are living longer, thanks to excellent medical care. The increased lifespan also increases the cost per patient in the twilight years of their life. The final driver is the fact that new procedures and medicines cost billions to develop. Our cancer survival rates are the best in the world, but the cost to treat cancer patients with new medicines or procedures has to be high to recoup the investment required to discover them.


If our HHS secretary truly understood the health care industry, she would understand the cost drivers. Instead she resorts to demonizing health insurance companies. She doesn’t see government interference in the market as a problem. Sebelius just repeats the leftists meme ” markets have failed Americans time and time again”, when in truth the markets have rarely been given a chance.


Sebelius then goes on to try to put a bright and smiley face on a dismal situation, noting that “seniors with private Medicare plans got some news that most Americans haven’t heard in years: Their premiums will actually go down 1% next year, even as many of them enjoy better benefits.” She failed to note that 25% of seniors that currently use Medicare Advantage plans will loose about 1/3 of their benefits.


None of these arguments have anything to do with the reason Secretary Sebelius wrote the article in the first place. Remember what started all this? She threatened insurance companies that dared tell their clients that costs were going up because of ObamaCare. Her retort was confined to the “the impact of the law on premiums is small, just 1% to 2% declining over time.” (i.e. premium raises aren’t our fault) Now if the Congressional Budget Office reports that ObamaCare will cause a rise in premiums, in fact 27% to 30% for individual policies, why can’t insurance companies say that? Inconvenient facts?


An entirely unconvincing performance from a bureaucrat that displays an amazing amount of ignorance of a system that she is supposed to understand.


This post was updated from it’s initial offering to include a minor addition

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