HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hillary Clinton and Health Care

The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn has a long interview with Senator Hillary Clinton on her views about health care.  He states,

A goal of your plan is to make for-profit insurers change a lot of their business practices, like excluding people with preexisting medical conditions. But will that work? Is it possible to make them act more like non-profits?


It wasn't so long ago that we had a lot of not-for-profit insurance companies, as you may recall. There may be a relationship here that may be worth exploring. [Laughs]

This is a new business model and it may be that some will go back to being non-profit. It may be that profit will be realized by competition, on the basis of cost and quality. Because, remember, this is an industry that spends $50 billion a year excluding people either altogether by denying them coverage, or by denying them care that they need.

$50 billion is no longer going to be an expense to them, so this could actually provide the opportunity of a new business model for for-profit insurance.

The insurance industry is not going to name me "woman of the year" any time soon. But I think this is a business opportunity that some may understand and see.

The other piece of this, which I've talked about many times before, is that with the advances in our understanding of the human genome, and individualized genetically-based treatments, the model of our system may be out of date anyway. If your whole model is based on excluding for preexisting conditions, and we will find out that nearly all of us have such a genetically-based preexisting conditions, how do you have an insurance model that really is going to last beyond the next 20, 25 years?

There's a lot going on here that is, I think, pushing for some recognition that the insurance industry's model, as they have allowed it to develop, with rejection of not-for-profit health care, the transformation of not-for profits to for-profits, the increasing money spent on underwriting,
the double-digit profit margins--it may have provided short-term financial benefits for individual companies but it has been bad for the economy.

The entire interview is not very long and is an interesting read on her health care reform proposal and some of the obstacles it may face if she is elected.

That is what the fight is going to be over. There are those ideologically who will cling to a for-profit model with no regulation. But, by doing so, they are really dooming millions more to both no insurance and underinsurance--and they are continuing to hobble the economy. And I think that's much more clearly understood today than it was 15 years ago.

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