This is awesome:
Insurance brokers and benefits consultants say their small business clients are seeing premiums go up an average of about 15 percent for the coming year — double the rate of last year’s increases. That would mean an annual premium that was $4,500 per employee in 2008 and $4,800 this year would rise to $5,500 in 2010.
The higher premiums at least partly reflect the inexorable rise of medical costs, which is forcing Medicare to raise premiums, too. Health insurance bills are also rising for big employers, but because they have more negotiating clout, their increases are generally not as steep.
Higher medical costs aside, some experts say they think the insurance industry, under pressure from Wall Street, is raising premiums to get ahead of any legislative changes that might reduce their profits.
This really is one of those things I never really thought about before the last year or so, but I still have no idea what exactly the health insurance companies offer this country. All they seem to do is sponge money off the top of what we pay for health care, make life a living hell for their customers and the medical community in the form of reams of paperwork, hand out lavish bonuses to their management, invest recklessly in whatever the Wall Street bad idea du jour is, and then raise rates when the fur-bearing trout farms don’t pan out and they need to cover their bad investments. Meanwhile, they don’t answer to the consumer and control congress, and are under orders from the Wall Street brokerages.
Do I have this completely wrong? Is there an actual fact-based (and that means you need to look somewhere other than the NRO or glibertarian sites) argument in favor of health insurance agencies? What service do they really offer? Why are these people who it appears add nothing so in control of the debate. I know I have turned into a pinko-commie, but right now this looks like nothing more than an elaborate and legal protection racket.