This doesn’t surprise me, but I hadn’t seen these figures before. They’re in a letter to the New York Times from David A. Balto, of the Center for American Progress.
I was disturbed to see your editorial suggest that the blame for “ever rising premiums” falls primarily on physicians. Let’s give credit where credit is due.
Between 2000 and 2007, the 10 largest publicly traded insurance companies increased their profits 428 percent, from $2.4 billion to $12.9 billion, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
During the same period, the number of insurers fell by nearly 20 percent, largely because of a huge wave of mergers that led to stunning consolidation. And premiums increased by more than 87 percent, rising four times faster than the average American’s wages.
Today, 95 percent of American insurance markets qualify as tight oligopolies. As in so many industries, blind reliance on free-market forces has failed the American public.
Clearly, doctors bear a responsibility to curb costs. But the real culprits are the middlemen who, after years of lax regulation, now have such a tight grip on the market that they can — and do — charge whatever they want.