We predicted this back in 2012 when our legislators were debating HB248 that if indeed they voted to put in a state health care exchange that not only rates for insurance, but fees would rise dramatically in the next few year. They did not heed our warning and instead did what the lobbyists who paid them in campaign contributions and Governor Otter wanted. They are now seeing the error of their ways, but to be sure none of those who voted for the bill will ever admit that they were wrong.
You can’t offer millions of uninsured people cheap insurance without the cost going up for the rest of the policy holders. The federal government gave the state 90 million dollars to build the infrastructure and they floundered around for a year then awarded the contract to a company in California to do the job. Pity that our officials always seem to pick companies outside of our state to handle the big contracts. Why do they do that? Because we find that inevitably those companies show up on the rolls of campaign contributors. In any case we now have 88,000 policy holders on the exchange, most of them because they were forced to seek policies there because the policies they had were cancelled. They found new policies on the exchange, but not without a cost in higher deductibles and lower quality policies and in many cases higher premiums.
This past week we found out that the State Healthcare Exchange was running out of money and would have to raise fees from 1.5 to 1.99% to keep the exchange running. So here we have more weight being put on the lower and middle income families of Idaho all because good old cowboy Butch Otter thought it was a good idea. Does anyone think that the generous contributions his campaign received from the insurance companies and the corporate medical establishment had anything to do with his decision? Do you think that all of those legislators who received over $250,000 in campaign contributions from the same sources voted for the exchange to help the public get lower insurance rates? We don’t doubt that some of our legislators were duped into thinking that an exchange would be beneficial to Idaho, but by and large it was the contributions and the lobbyists lying to them about a state exchange benefits for Idahoans.
I don’t know any lobbyists that are trying to help the people; it’s always the large corporations that they work that want to make changes that will enhance their profits and increase our taxes. IACI, or as we like to call them the Idaho Association of Corruption and Influence, has taken over the running of our legislature from their office in the state house. They have virtually unlimited access to our elected officials and are always steering them in a direction that helps their corporate employers. The real beneficiaries of the State Health Exchange were the insurance companies and the hospitals. Everyone is now required by law to have health insurance, and they have been reaping the harvest by signing up thousands of new policy holders to their rolls. You the public were once again hit in your wallets because our legislators listened to the lobbyists’ campaign contributions.
Just for kicks we looked up the members of IACI’s board of directors and found some interesting names on the list. Take a look for yourself.
- James Adamson, President & CEO of Mountain View Hospital
- Jerry Edgington, Vice President/General Manager of SelctHealth
- Mike Reynoldson, Director, Government Affairs Blue Cross of Idaho
- Scott Kreling, President Regence Blue Shield
- Amanda Klump, Regional Director, Government Affairs Altria Client Services
- Dr. David Pate, President and CEO St. Luke’s Health System
- Norm Varin, Manager, Idaho Public Relations PacificSource Health Plans
- Corey Surber, Executive Director, Community Health St. Alphonsus Health System
Eight out of 42 total members of IACI’s board are related to the healthcare industry; is it no wonder why Idaho, the Reddest of the Red states, has a healthcare exchange. As we always say follow the money. Does anyone realize that there is a special rule in Idaho Code that says that executives’ salaries of a non-profit insurance company like Blue Cross do not have to disclose their salary? “WOW”! If you do a bit of research, you will be surprised to find that many of the directors of these companies sit on each other’s boards of directors. Does anyone know how to say collusion or conflict of interest?
Blue Cross and Regence Blue Shield have over $600 million dollars in reserve, but don’t think for a minute that they are going to dig into that treasure chest to keep rates down. No, they are going to once again suck the public dry because they don’t have any competition in Idaho. Why is that we ask. Well why don’t we ask our new Insurance Commissioner former Senator and insurance broker Dean Cameron who fought so hard for the State Health Exchange? They don’t want any competition in the state with other insurers. Cronyism my friends, it’s plain and simple cronyism. It’s the insurance companies that should be sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act for monopolistic practices, just as St. Luke’s was for anti-competitive actions by taking over the Salzer Group reducing competition. Blue Cross brags about how it controls 80% of the Treasure Valley Doctors in their network.
Does anyone wonder why we have such high medical costs in our two major hospitals? Now if you ask the hospitals it’s because they have to take in so many Medicaid, Medicare and charity cases where they receive low or no reimbursements for their services. Fact is that they too are subsidized for their losses by the guess who? The Federal Government. Why is it that a Hernia operation in St. Luke’s costs $8,000 and in the Treasure Valley Hospital which is a for profit hospital the same hernia operation costs $2,000. Has anyone taken a good look at the salaries of the administrators of these supposed Non Profit Hospitals? Many of them are taking home a million or more a year with benefits. The only charitable part of St. Luke’s is the way they take such good care of their administrators.
Let us enlighten you about hospitals and how you are billed, and why so many doctors are now forced to affiliate with them and work under their rules and payment schedules. When you go to see a doctor at St. Luke’s you are charged for a facility fee and a fee to see the doctor. When you go to see a private physician you are only charged a doctor’s fee because they are not permitted to charge a facility fee. Can you say double billing? What is happening is the hospitals are shoving more and more Medicaid patients on to the private physicians, and they are keeping the more profitable patients. Virtually 42 cents of every dollar you spend on medical care goes to paper work, and it gets worse every year because of the thousands of new rules and regulations imposed by Obamacare.
We believe that this price gouging needs to stop, but there is only one way to stop it and that is by pressuring our legislators to require more transparency in pricing for procedures by doctors and hospitals. There is no reason that a patient should be paying $5.00 for an aspirin that costs 10 cents. There is no reason that there should be a $6,000 difference in the cost of a hernia operation between St. Luke’s and Treasure Valley hospital.
Look at some of the reasons as to why Idaho has an insurance exchange, and why our rates keep going up. When you go to see a doctor attached to a hospital he bills the insurance company twice for a facility fee and a physician’s consultation fee. This is a form of double billing for the same service. Independent doctors can only bill you for their consultation. The Hospitals keep shoving Medicaid patients toward the independent doctors because they don’t make any money on them and eventually can’t stay independent, so we lose more independent doctors each year to hospitals where they can get better salaries. That leaves us with less choices for medical care.
There are many alternative companies that have been born over the past 2 years that are religious based, are exempt from Obamacare’s rules and offer good coverage at reasonable prices. Medi-Share, Samaritan Ministries, and Christian Health Ministries are just a few. We would recommend that anyone wishing to opt out of the Healthcare Exchange take a look at these faith based alternatives. We have talked to many of our readers, and they have expressed that these alternatives give them high quality healthcare at more than reasonable cost. Below we have provided the website links for these three faith based alternatives.