Monday, March 5, 2012

They have something backwards

If health insurance companies have increasing profits, how do you think they should react? Should they reduce premiums or at least reduce the premium increase, or should they give their executives big pay increases? I think most people will vote for the first option and the only people who would vote for giving the big pay increases would be the executives who receive them - and probably approve them as well.

This announcement came out last week: 'Capitalizing on fewer people seeking medical care and submitting claims, the state’s four biggest commercial health insurers posted sharply higher earnings for 2011 while their executives collected more pay, according to reports released yesterday.'

'“We’re trying to maintain the affordability agenda,’’ said Allen P. Maltz, chief financial officer of Blue Cross, who cited the Boston-based insurer’s 2011 operating margin - the percentage of money it makes from its revenue - of 0.7 percent. “We’re doing our best to return the good results to our customers and not see them drop to the bottom line.’’'

Now that's a lot of hooey.

'But a consumer advocate said the more favorable trend in health care costs should be resulting in lower premiums for employers and individuals, not just less burdensome increases.

“Premiums are still increasing, and they’re already too high,’’ said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group. “This is the same dance insurers have been doing for some time, and this is what consumers are frustrated by. Insurers are reaping the benefits that should be going to consumers.’’'

Now there's something I agree with - we, the patients, are all frustrated.

After reading that article I then read one on moral decision making where the concern is really: 'It doesn’t just matter what people do but why they do it and what’s going on in their heads when they do it.' It also talks about the differences between normal people making decisions and their feelings about them as compared to psychopaths who are less concerned with the outcome and how it affects others.

Psychopaths are highly forgiving of accidents. Ordinary people find it really difficult to forgive accidents in some cases, because you can’t deny the fact that harm was caused. If someone sent you a computer virus and it messed up your computer, even though you know they did it completely by accident, you still have a really hard time forgiving them, because of this gut emotional response. Psychopaths have a blunted emotional response to the pain and suffering of victims even of accidents. That results in them being especially lenient in these cases.

This may explain why we are so unforgiving of those who do us wrong - meaning insurance company executives and the former friend who sent us a computer virus. As we struggle to pay our ever increasing health insurance premiums and balancing between food, mortgage, and premiums, the executives are making the big bucks and taking month-long tropical vacations. Even if the amount is miniscule - $500,000 pay increase to an executive might only result in $0.25 savings per premium payer but all those little things add up.

I think they have something backwards. They are not making moral decisions in these pay increases. They are taking the looking after  1 a little too far.

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