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Blood money.

   The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section argues that if the free market can provide better health insurance than a public option, the market ought to be really free:
- Let insurers compete
   It is one thing for the nation's big health insurance providers to object to a plan that would have them Competition competing against a government-owned health insurance offering. It is quite another to hear them object to the idea of more competition from one another.
[AP article. Sen. Charles Schumer press release.]

   Great minds run in small circles. Viz:
- A matter of trust - Editorial/The Philadelphia Inquirer
   The insurance industry may find out that there's something worse than having to compete with a Medicare-style health plan for working-age Americans. How about yanking its long-standing exemption from federal antitrust laws? 

   Then this interesting wrinkle was in many newspapers today:
- Health insurer profits not so fat By Calvin Woodward/The Associated Press 
    Quick quiz: What do these enterprises have in common? Farm and construction machinery, Tupperware, the railroads, Hershey sweets, Yum food brands and Yahoo? Answer: They're all more profitable than the health insurance industry. In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making "immoral" and "obscene" returns while "the bodies pile up."
   Ledgers tell a different reality. Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That's anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.

   I wonder, though. "Profit" for private-sector health insurance companies would be what's left after they pay for marketing, salaries [often huge] for their execs, and for the people whose job it is to deny your claims. And taxes. Those are costs that a public option wouldn't have, or that a private firm might cut down on if it were in real competition with, well, anyone. 

- Paul Krugman still thinks big-time reform is coming, and that it will work.
- Robert J. Samuelson still thinks we are arguing about the wrong things. 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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