An excellent article on the health care dilemma

‘A Wasted Opportunity’
Wellpoint’s CEO on ObamaCare’s mistakes and how to pick up the political pieces.
by By JOSEPH RAGO in the Wall Street Journal


Mrs. Braly says, when 85 cents out of every premium dollar or more “is paid out in the actual cost of care, doctors, hospitals, suppliers, drugs, devices.” Confiscating the 2009 profits of the entire insurance industry would pay for two days of U.S. health care.

“In Maine, where guaranteed issue went into effect in 1993, there were 11 carriers in the individual market, and now there are two: Us, and another company that would not be called in any circle an equivalent health insurance company.” In Kentucky, 45 insurers fled the state, with WellPoint the last one standing, until the state started in 1998 to repeal most of these regulations.

Depending on the plan, WellPoint’s monthly premium for a 20-year-old in Indianapolis, where the company is based, ranges from $53 to $202. But the same young adult looking for similar coverage in Albany would face costs anywhere between $832 and $1,047. Obviously health costs vary across the country, Mrs. Braly says, but these disparities are almost entirely due to New York’s regulatory mandates. In a state with 19 million people, 88 New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 24—88!—have bought WellPoint’s best-selling individual insurance product because insurance laws make it perfectly rational not to acquire costly coverage until people need it.

As Mrs. Braly diagnoses the U.S. health-care system, its two main strengths are (a) choice and flexibility and (b) cutting-edge treatments and procedures. But while American medicine has been shaped by specialization, scientific advancements and major technological breakthroughs, it is paradoxically antiquated. The modern managerial and corporate practices for obtaining better productivity and quality that have revolutionized every other sector of the economy have largely passed over medicine.