We Need a Scorched-Earth Campaign Against Health Care Insurers

Is one of these your insurance carrier? Do you love them? Do you even give them a second thought except when you have a problem? Would it bother you if, instead of showing your insurance card when you visited the doctor, you showed your Medicare card instead?

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

A friend just emailed me to say that Americans will never give up their private health care plans. Minutes later, I read a post from Martin Longman making much the same point:

In theory, I am very enthusiastically in favor of eliminating the private for-profit health insurance industry entirely. Yet, I know that this would cause a political firestorm unlike anything we’ve seen since George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security. In fact, it would likely be an order of magnitude more controversial than that fiasco. To make matters worse, it’s a promise that could not be kept. To even contemplate the passage of such a bill, the Democrats would need a supermajority in the Senate, and that’s not in the offing anytime soon.

….The question, then, is why would a presidential candidate run on a platform that included the elimination of private heath insurance? It might help them win the Democratic nomination, but thereafter it would weigh on them like an albatross….If they nevertheless won the election, which is certainly possible, they would have to abandon their promise or they’d wind up taking a huge beating much like Trump did in his effort to repeal Obamacare.

Well. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t. This was all kicked off by Kamala Harris saying she wants to “eliminate all of that”that being private health insurance—but this doesn’t mean she wants to eliminate all private insurance immediately. It could just as easily mean she supports a plan that would phase out private insurance over time. I suppose we’ll find out when she releases her inevitable health care white paper.

But let’s put that aside for a moment and ask ourselves: Are Americans really in love with their health insurers? Given the way health insurers treat people, that’s hard to believe. Americans do seem to be in love with their doctors, but that’s an entirely different thing.

But maybe I’m wrong. If so, what’s needed is a scorched-earth, Republicanesque jihad against health insurers. Blanket the airwaves with horror stories of insurance companies denying claims. Get some telegenic doctors to show off their staff and tell us that these people spend 100 percent of their time arguing with insurance companies to get fair treatment for their patients. “It adds $50 to every visit,” or something like that. Pan over to gravestones of people who died because their insurance company refused treatment.

You get the idea. I truly don’t think it would take much to turn insurance companies into pariahs. People already bitch about them endlessly, after all. At a guess, every single person reading this knows someone who has personally had to spend dozens or hundreds of hours on the phone with an insurance carrier to adjudicate some complicated bit of medical care.

Would Democrats be willing to fight an industry this ruthlessly? Hard to say. They’re willing to do it to the gun industry and the fossil fuel industry. So why not the health insurance industry?

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate