Insurance industry cherry-picks facts

INSURANCE INDUSTRY CHERRY-PICKS FACTS…. The insurance industry says it would like to see universal coverage for all Americans, just so long as there’s no public insurance option. As far as America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is concerned, there’s no need for a public plan — 77% of Americans “are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage.”

It’s a statistic AHIP’s president, Karen Ignagni, uses with great frequency. She’s apparently hoping we don’t take a closer look at the source of the data.

Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), invoked the statistic to argue against the creation of a government-run insurance option. But the polls are not that simple, and her assertion reveals how the industry’s effort to defend its turf has led it to cherry-pick the facts.

The poll Ignagni was citing actually undercuts her position: By 72 to 20 percent, Americans favor the creation of a public plan, the June survey by the New York Times and CBS News found. People also said that they thought government would do a better job than private insurers of holding down health-care costs and providing coverage.

In addition, data from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last year, compiled at the request of The Washington Post, suggest that the people who like their health plans the most are the people who use them the least.

The more experience you have with your private health insurer, the less likely you are to be satisfied. What’s more, those who are covered under Medicare are just about as satisfied with their plan as those with private insurance — which, if conservative/industry talking points were true, wouldn’t make sense.

In fact, the Washington Post‘s David Hilzenrath did a nice job summarizing some of the AHIP’s most common talking points, and explaining why the industry’s spin is, at a minimum, highly misleading.

AHIP says a public option would stunt improvements in quality and safety of patient care, but there’s little evidence to show where private insurers have made improvements. AHIP says a public option would limit choices, but Americans are already restricted by limited choices, and in some areas, no choices at all. AHIP warns of bureaucracies in a public option, but there are already burdensome private bureaucracies standing between patients and doctors.

Wait, are we to understand that rhetoric from health insurance companies is unreliable and filled with dubious claims that can’t stand up to scrutiny? You don’t say.