Thank you Greg Ferch and Audrey Dutton for bringing this special privilege of non-disclosure by our major health insurance companies to the attention of the citizens of Idaho. I find it appalling that we allow this to take place as Idahoans insurance premiums continue to climb 20 to 40% a year and deductibles rise at astronomical rates. All this occurs while Blue Cross and Blue Shield Regents sock away hundreds of millions in reserve funds they say are necessary for the future. Even as a mutual company there should be disclosure on compensation and golden parachutes. Where is the outrage from the policy holders? You don’t have to look far to figure out why the legislators have been reluctant to push legislation to correct this problem. Just take a peek at the campaign contributions made by these companies to our legislators every year they run for office. This was most obvious during the 2012 election cycle when the Governor decided to push for a state healthcare exchange.
We have what they would call back east a Medical Mafia who work in collusion with each other to manipulate the legislature to get what they want. They share board seats with each other’s organizations and sit on the IACI board together. These companies have an iron grip on Idaho’s healthcare system, and they do pretty much whatever they want whenever they want with the blessing of government who is supposed to be regulating them. We now have the fox guarding the hen house in the form of Insurance chief Dean Cameron who spent most of his life in the insurance industry, and I’m sure still has some sort of interest in keeping his old friends happy.
We have a monopoly in the healthcare industry in Idaho with little or no competition in the insurance business along with little or no transparency in cost of services from healthcare providers like our non-profit hospitals like St. Luke’s and St. Al’s. St. Luke’s was stopped from acquiring the Saltzer Group under the Sherman Antitrust act, but that does not solve the problem of who is in network and who is out of network, which determines what a person will pay for services. Most people are not aware that 80% or more of the doctors in the Treasure Valley are locked into Blue Cross or Blue Shield Regents. That my friends is a monopoly no matter how you slice it. Private physicians can no longer afford to practice and take in Medicaid or Medicare patients because they lose money with low reimbursements on them.
What we need is more competition in the insurance industry and a way for private physicians to leave the cozy walls of the Hospitals and venture out into their own practices again like is happening with Direct Private Care Physicians. When we are limited in our choices of healthcare and insurance providers it causes rates to climb, and we see less transparency in the cost of medical procedures. We need our legislators to help with this matter and address a serious problem in our state as we already have a shortage of doctors, and it will become more acute as the older ones retire or just plain quit.
We elect representatives to represent us so they can solve problems facing our state. I for one would like to see some movement in the area healthcare transparency and accountability because our current system does a disservice to all Idahoans.