Monday, August 03, 2009

Snidely Whiplash, CLU

We must admit to being a bit worried when House Speaker Nancy "Botox Nan" Pelosi identified us as "the villains in this" debate, literally "carpet bombing" our clients and fellow citizens (with, one supposes, boxes of expired policy forms). After all, it's not every day that one of the most prominent figures in Washington calls your industry evil. On the other hand, we were hopeful that this little contretemps would blow over, and that the American Public© wouldn't notice our satanic inclinations.
Alas and alack, this was not to be. This morning's email brought this missive from Nieman Watchdog:
"The public option, unlike single payer, cannot recapture the $400 billion in administrative waste that private insurers generate in their drive to fight claims, deny care and screen out the sick."
Dang, are they onto us already?
I quickly called my masters, er, um, associates at some of the major carriers to confirm these numbers. Interestingly, every single one has a specific line-item in their budget for such things as "unsupportable but routine claims denials," "indefensible policy recissions," and one even had an item called "pre-screens: a great way to decline the sickies."
As one might imagine, I was appalled and/or relieved. The bad news is that none of the carriers had budgeted more than a token amount to these worthy efforts. The numbers are, of course, a matter of public record (every carrier files an annual report to their stockholders and state insurance departments). According to my research, it appears that most are spending less than $1,000 a year on these efforts, although one, which will remain nameless, is on track to spend upwards of $1,100 this year alone.
Still, this is a far, far cry from the "$400 billion" that the Nieman folks are alleging. Unfortunately, neither the email nor the author of the ingenious study provided any citations to back up the assertion that such a large sum is, indeed, being expended in this great cause.
'Tis a pity.
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