Are increased insurance premiums due to insurers greed?

Dear Professor Wolff...All this talk about the horrific "replacement" of ACA and how it is OBVIOUSLY going to AGAIN leave many people unable to afford healthcare, WHY does nobody mention that the insurance companies boast profits only rivaled by oil companies and it is the insurance companies that are raising the premiums and not the ACA???

Official response from submitted

In the US, insurers (like most other capitalists) always justify increasing their prices (i.e. raising their premiums) by all manner of reasons other than that they want more profits. Even in their financial documents for the investment community, their reports speak about rising profits as results of their "cost-cutting" or "effective marketing" or "penetrating new markets" and so forth. It is simply understood that it is impolitic and even dangerous in terms of a company's public reputation to boast of raising prices to obtain more profits. In fact, that is done all the time, whenever a company thinks it can get more revenues by doing so. A few capitalists, disgusted at the fakery of this pattern, will sometimes shock audiences by saying it outright. But that remains rare.

On the other hand, whenever profits fall, the same companies invariably blame anything and everyone other than themselves. Thus it is unproductive labor or government regulation or changing currency values or rising costs of inputs....whatever seems plausible to hide mistaken decisions made by boards of directors and major shareholders or overpayments of shares of the profit to themselves as shareholders and/or top executives.

So yes, the desire to please shareholders, reward top executives, etc., prices/premiums are raised when they can get away with it (i.e. when market conditions - and/or big advertising campaigns - permit them to raise the prices and even if units sold drop, total sales still yield higher revenues). In short, capitalists greed is usually a part of rising premiums.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-03-19 16:16:12 -0400
  • Karen Barnes
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-03-19 13:00:36 -0400