If you own stock in any of the for-profit health insurance companies, you have reason to rejoice. Shares in UnitedHealth Group Inc's quarterly profit "crushed estimates, fueled by growth across its health plans and continued benefits from Americans' moderate use of healthcare services, and its shares soared as much as 10.5 percent to a three-year high" according to a Reuters report published Thursday.
The prognostications of the cynics have come to pass. Despite the much- ballyhooed health care reform law, the for-profit health care system is raking in the big bucks. They claim that we're just not seeking medical attention like we used to. According to them, we are voluntarily choosing to suffer because we are getting with the austerity program. We are becoming careful and responsible health care "consumers." Fools that we are, we continue to pay these parasites their skyrocketing premiums, even as we go to the doctor less. We can't afford the deductibles, the co-pays and all the other out of pocket expenses, analysts concede. But too bad for us, and hooray for them is the talking point they're not even trying to hide.
"It was a great quarter," according to one Wall Street analyst, who added that the profits -- amounting to more than $1 billion in income for the United Health leeches -- "pretty much confirms, at this point at any rate, the best hopes that you could have had."
Shares of rival private insurers rose after the report, with WellPoint Inc up 3.6 percent, Aetna rising 4.6 percent and Coventry Health Care climbing 5.3 percent, the Reuters article said.
The report on profits is the first since provisions in the health care reform law, requiring that private insurers invest at least 80 percent of their profits back into patient care, went into effect at the beginning of the year. It proves that the new law, while ensuring that young people can stay on their parents' plans longer, that you can't be dropped if you get sick, and that you can't be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, really benefits large insurers at our expense. They win, and we lose, albeit just a miniscule amount less than we did before. We continue to pay obscenely high premiums and still can't afford to go to the doctor. "Obamacare" as its Republican critics derisively call it, really is a scam of epic proportions. Progressives and conservatives are in agreement that we should not be forced to buy this "product" that purports to care for our health. The so-called good bits don't go into effect until 2014 anyway.
And just as we suspected, the private insurers have figured out a way to game the system. They post record profits after they are supposedly reined in. The irony is delicious.
Meanwhile, more of us are uninsured than ever. And judging from the massive influx of cash to the venal health care cartel, the coverage we do have is pure junk. They still rake in much more than they shell out.
" The report card is an 'A'," gloats David Heupel, a large-cap growth fund portfolio manager with Thrivent Investment Management, whose fund holds Aetna shares. "It's hard to really find anything here that you can poke at." (Presumably, Heupel doesn't have a worry in the world with his gold-plated health insurance plan and his secure job.)
UnitedHealth blames crappy winter weather for its premium payers not going to the doctor as much as might be expected, though it does acknowledge lower than normal claims even in areas not impacted by severe winter storms. They suspect people will start going to the doctor again once the weather warms up. Huh? Last I heard, people get sick more in the winter, during cold season. I suggest we look into claims denials along with the unconscionable rate hikes as big, huge, glaring factors in their "wow, like we totally didn't expect this" windfall profits. I also suggest we continue to clamor for Single Payer, Medicare for All and send the private insurers straight to the penultimate circle of Dante's Hell where they belong.