Daily Topics - Monday Feb. 15th 2010

don't know much imagesHour Two: Ever wonder what dirt the textbooks missed on Abraham Lincoln & George Washington? Historian Kenneth Davis drops by www.dontknowmuch.com

Hour Three: Sex, Political Intrigue and Espionage...and we don't mean C Street! James Robenault will be here about his new book "The Harding Affair" thehardingaffair.com


Charles in OH (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

Anthem Blue Cross Demonstrates Flaw of For-Profit Healthcare

Anthem Blue Cross has been getting beaten up lately for its decision to raise the rates of individual policy holders by as much as 39%. The increase is 10 times the projected growth in healthcare spending. Anthem asserted the average increase would be only 25%, far outpacing projected spending increases. Anthem’s contention that the rate increases are justified highlights the flaw of for-profit healthcare.

Anthem attributes the hike to the exodus of healthy customers. The economic downturn has caused policyholders to re-evaluate their insurance needs. Many have reduced coverage in favor of lower premiums while others have decided to forgo insurance altogether. The net result is less revenue coming in to support the unhealthy customers. In fact, Anthem has stated that it lost money last year while its parent company, WellPoint, posted profits of $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009. The smaller pool of policyholders will have to pay more to make up for the losses.

The for-profit insurance company (FPIC) takes in funds through premiums. These premiums are pooled to offset the cost of healthcare to the policyholder. The FPIC is required to retain a level of funds to insure that it can make payments to claims. The reserve amount varies by state. After claims and expenses, the FPIC pays leftover funds to its shareholders on a quarterly basis. This is the flaw in private healthcare.

Because of its for-profit status, corporations are not inclined to establish “rainy-day funds”. In fact, most shareholders and analysts would frown on such behavior. Corporations, by nature, are not suited to prepare for downturns. Most rely on contraction and layoffs to weather the storm. Insurance companies do not have this luxury as they are contractually bound to continue to provide service even when financial constraints exist. People do not stop getting sick during hard times, it’s a well held belief that the opposite happens as preventative care declines. The only recourse the insurance company has is to raise rates, setting in motion a chain of events that favor neither the policyholder nor the shareholder.

Rising premiums have already had a negative impact on customers. The healthy and young policyholder either reduces or drops coverage, leaving a pool of sick customers. Those hovering on the margins, so ill that they cannot go without insurance, are making grave choices to maintain their coverage. This next round of hikes will push the cost out of range for many of these people. These newly uninsured will join the ever growing multitude of uninsured putting more pressure on an already strained healthcare system.

As policyholders continue to abandon their coverage, the losses for the FPIC will continue to mount. Shareholders will begin to see their dividends erode. Analysts will declare the company at risk, resulting in declining stock value. This inevitably will lead to a merger or takeover and eventual job losses.

RustyCannon (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

If the Texas School Board is successful in striking "liberals" such as George Washington and Cesar Chavez from their textbooks in favor of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, Mr Kenneth C Davis is going to have a whole new set of books to write, debunking misinformation and filling-in the gaps of history textbooks all over the country.

In fact, from what I've heard, he may have that opportunity open to him right now.

Blue Mark (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

Republican't Party
Replicant Party (for Bladerunner fans)
Grand Obstructionist Party
Publican Party
Repub Party

Brian Gregory (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

I've always referred to the Rs at republicanderthals. So far no insulted neanderthals have returned from extinction to take me to task.

Brian Gregory (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

I've always referred to the Rs as republicanderthals. So far no insulted neanderthals have returned from extinction to take me to task.

libgalohio (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

Love these two when they fill in for Thom. I'm partial to repukes as the tag for the party that veers further right daily.

I 100% agree with Carl and Christine that we need to really call out these thugs, these corporate leaning criminals.

Obama and the whole party indeed does need to go back to their liberal, progressive roots. In doing so they need to tap into their inner Harry Truman and call these corporatists out.. Pelosi has shown some signs but Harry Reid is hopeless with that weak milquetoast voice. I don't doubt that he's a very nice man but we'd be far better off with someone like Barbara Boxer as the Senate Leader.

It's time to veer left and save our country. There is a lot of angst out there and it's there for the taking. If we don't tap it someone nefarious will.

Mark K (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

I heard Thom’s fill-in hosts talk about how we needed to bring teabaggers “into the fold.” How many times do progressive talk show hosts need to be disappointed in these useless efforts? All they have to do is check-out their websites, blogs, the people they invite to their gatherings and what they say themselves. Except for a few hangers-on who just want to check-out the scene, they are all right-wing and/or Republican. There may be agreement on one or two issues like bank bailouts and immigrant bashing, but they approach issues from a 180 degree different set of “values.” Forget these people; they can’t be swayed. These are the same people who come out of the woodwork every time they feel “threatened” by what they perceive as left-wing policies. The people who need to be “convinced” are the so-called “independents” who abandoned the Democrats in Massachusetts a few weeks ago. They want to see if Obama and the Democrats can govern, and not behave as if they are afraid to do so.

Charles in OH (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

What Anthem Blue Cross shows us is the free-market principles are not at play in the insurance industry. By continually raising rates as policyholders flee, Anthem is heading down a path to ruin for short-term gain. Sadly, Anthem is not alone on this route. Other insurers have or will undoubtedly follow suit. What we cannot do is stand by and wait for the free-market to correct itself.

RustyCannon (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

Just refer to conservatives as "cons". Like "democrat", it is a shortening of the proper name.

It has negative conotations: con, as in convict, con-artist, confidence scammer, etc.

RustyCannon (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

I agree with Mark K.
To understand how thick headed teabaggers are, one need go no further than Thom's message board. There are 3-4 of them over there that can barely put a sentence together, but they're certainty that what they heard on FOX is so pervasive that they will tie themselves in knots to justify any facts to the contrary that they encounter.

scott (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

Can someone provide the web site mentioned on the air where the insurance companies' record profits are listed? Thanks!

SueN (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago
Fred (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

let's kick it back to the repubs with things like:

GOP: Gone Over Precipice

Fred (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

That got away from me...more:

GO:P Grabbed Our Prosperity
On Drugs--PCP---Paid Corporate Pawns

Tim (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

If corporations are people, and no person shall be denied Equal Protection, then natural born people have all the rights of corporations. No person arrested after this ruling can be jailed, because we all now have limited liability. The worst thing that you can do to a person is fine them. Every person gets the same tax status as a corporation. We get to write off all expenses.

If corporation want to be people, then they have to have all the responsibilities of people. They lose any special tax status, and liability. You can't have it both ways, that's not Equal Protection.

Robin (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

I do know it is 2.9 billion..for the last quarter of 2009..and that the health insurance companies are now the 85th biggest corporation in the US..hmm..2.9 billion and no rainy day fund..damn..they are lousy credit risks..

Scott (not verified) 12 years 14 weeks ago

If you had a national consumption tax, you would create the biggest black market ever on illicit goods and under the table transactions. It would be ridiculous, besides being regressive.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Today, we are closing Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to hartmannreport.com - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Screwed:
"Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull’s eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called ‘free market.’ Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now."
Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While