23 July 2009

How did I miss that?

In my post about "Zombie Lies" the other day, I mentioned this misleading point from the Investors.com article:
"The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a [public] program,"

Jed reminds me of something which I knew but had forgotten:

It turns out the Republican Party has relied on and cited "policy analysis" from a "research firm" that is wholly owned by a health insurance giant:

The political battle over health-care reform is waged largely with numbers, and few number-crunchers have shaped the debate as much as the Lewin Group, a consulting firm whose research has been widely cited by opponents of a public insurance option.

To Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, it is "the nonpartisan Lewin Group." To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an "independent research firm." To Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is "well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country."

Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers.

So there you have it: the Republican Party and the health insurance industry.

This has been another episode of "What Jed Said."


  1. This is barely related to the topic of health care reform, but it's a pressing issue in my own life, so I gotta ask. What do you do when you have a pressing health issue that's certainly not emergent and probably not urgent, but is nonetheless interfering with your daily life, and you can't get in to see a doctor in a reasonable time?

    I have a friend with worsening RLQ pain, radiating to her back. She's already had her appendix out. Ultrasound findings were negative; she had glucose and a little blood in her urine but a negative A1C, and a fair amount of group B strep. She's getting more and more fatigued, and the pain is interfering with her ability to do things like shop for groceries and care for her children.

    Her PCP is puzzled and referred her out to a gastroenterologist, but the first available appointment is September first!! She can't go on like this. Should she go to urgent care, or what?

  2. I'm in the middle of Howard Deans book "Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform." Not bad so far. Nothing too revolutionary there. But re: public option which I blogged about recently, he sites the very Lewin group you just talked about and how they evaluated the Jacob Hacker plan for a public option and what it would do to private insurance.

    The facts (as presenting by Dr. Dean in his book) were interesting: 28.1 million would find coverage through private plans through an exchange, 65.6 million would enroll in the public option and 113.6 million would keep their private insurance that is provided by their employer (total 207 million).

    What is particularly interesting about these numbers is that currently 164 million get coverage through their employer, 14 million get insurance through individual policies (total 178 million).

    Thus 50 million people either choose to go off their employer coverage or their employers don't elect to provide coverage anymore. So yes, some bleeding does occur from employer based healthcare. I find it more fascinating that still >100 million people will still get the same insurance they had previously through their employer.

    Also, notice the totals, more total non Medicare/Medicaid coverage than previously (thus increased capture and varied risk pool) - by 30million. Yes a large number of people choose the public plan, but 25% choose the privately insured. In total numbers of private insurance: before=178m, after exchange w/public option=141.7. In other words, private insurers lose 20% of their business. A decrease, yes. A travesty no.

    Your thoughts?

  3. Name one government medical program that is run better than a private one.

  4. Come on Shadowfax, you're blogging about this stuff and you stand to make A TON of money if it goes through...for awhile...until insurance companies decrease your compensation since you're making more per patient. I know you mentioned this before in like a comment or something, but ER docs stand to benefit (temporarily) probably more than anyone else. HUGE bias on your part.

    I see all these posts as the equivalent of Scalpel following the freestanding ER legislation in his state.

  5. Anon,

    OK, I'll take the bait. Medicare is better run than private insurers. It has lower overheard (3% vs 10-18%), it pays claims faster, it hassles patients less, no denials, no recissions, and free choice of care for its patients.

    Proof of the concept was that when they tried to privatize it with Medicare Advantage, it required subsidies of >10% for the private insurers to provide the same services!

    It's not perfect, but I'll argue that Medicare's imperfections stand up well against those of the private insurance market.

  6. Medicare is a tax, so its "cost" includes the stifling of growth of business and the pocketbooks of every American.

    The 3% number has long been refuted as a myth, btw. Most people recognize that no one will ever be able to calculate the true cost of administrating Medicare. Plus, given the billions of dollars of Medicare fraud detected each year, maybe a little more administration would be a good idea?


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