Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 2, 2009 / 15 Mar-Cheshvan 5770

Hyperbole and the health-care debate

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Two things supporters of a government-run "public option" for health insurance know for sure. One is that private health insurers are raking in obscenely high profits. The other is that only a government rival can force them to compete on price.

In a clever new commercial featuring Heather Graham as an agile sprinter named "Public Option," the left-wing pressure group MoveOn combines both themes, describing insurance companies as "lazy" and "bloated from the profits of raising our health care costs sky-high." Why, it asks, should anyone resist the competition a public option would generate? After all, "competition is as American as apple pie." In a less amusing print ad a few weeks ago, MoveOn charged that "insurance companies are willing to let the bodies pile up, as long as their profits are safe."

President Obama also attacks health insurers as avaricious profiteers.

"The insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform," he declared on Oct. 16, "even as costs continue to rise and our health-care dollars continue to be poured into their profits (and) bonuses." When he addressed Congress in September, Obama insisted that only a public option will "keep insurance companies honest." On the White House Blog, ObamaCare opponents are accused of "fighting to protect insurance industry profits."

Indeed, there is no shortage of voices characterizing health insurers as greedy villains. Earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised her party for highlighting "the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry." On CNN last week, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown demanded a public option "so the insurance industry can't continue to game the system and discriminate" against women and the disabled -- tactics insurers have used to "quadruple their profits in the last five years." If quadrupled profits don't seem rapacious enough, the union-backed Health Care for American Now! ups the ante, claiming, according to the AFL-CIO's news blog, that "during the past five years, health insurance company profits have soared by 1,000 percent."

Outbidding them all is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Health insurance companies "are so anti-competitive," he said last month, "because they make more money than any other business in America today."

To such overheated agitprop, the only useful response is a cold shower of facts, and the Associated Press supplied a timely one last week. For all the impassioned talk about obscene profits and bodies piling up, AP's Calvin Woodward reported, "health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent" of revenues, a return "that's anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries."

On the Fortune 500 list of top industries, health insurance companies ranked 35th in profitability in 2008; their overall profit margin was a mere 2.2 percent. They lagged far behind such industries as pharmaceuticals (which showed a profit margin of 19.3 percent), railroads (12.6 percent), and mining (11.5 percent). Among health insurers, the best performer last year was HealthSpring, which had a profit of 5.4 percent. "That's a less profitable margin," AP noted, "that was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach, and Molson and Coors beers."

For the most recent quarter of 2009, health-insurance plans earned profits of only 3.3 percent, ranking them 86th on the expanded Yahoo! Finance list of US industries. The application-software industry, by contrast, is pulling in profits of nearly 22 percent. Why aren't MoveOn and the Democrats demanding a "public option" to compete with Microsoft and Adobe and drive down their "immoral" profits?

There are certainly industries doing worse than health insurance -- airlines and newspapers, for example -- but the notion that health insurers "make more money than any other business in America today" is preposterous. Advocates of a public option may find it tactically expedient to paint insurers as insatiable predators, swollen with ill-gotten profits. The reality is otherwise.

Still, the critics do have one thing right: More competition would bring down health-care premiums. But the way to increase competition is not by adding a government-run health plan to the 1,300 private firms already providing Americans with health insurance. After all, there's no public option for auto insurance and life insurance, yet they're sold in a highly competitive national market. There is no reason health insurance can't be sold the same way.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2006, Boston Globe

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles