Poll: public blames insurance industry more than drug makers for high healthcare costs

posted at 12:01 pm on January 6, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

America’s attitude about the health insurance market hasn’t gotten much better over the last year and for obvious reasons. There’s definitely a feeling of trepidation about the Obamacare exchanges collapsing like dominoes and some of the big operators taking huge losses. But mostly people seem to have noticed that their premiums are not only not going down as originally promised, but instead are rising faster than ever. (Funny how that works, huh?) So who is the public blaming at this point? Prescription drug manufacturers have been in the news a lot lately, particularly after the debacle of The Most Evil Man In America. And yet a recent poll from Morning Consult shows that people are still more focused on the insurance companies themselves, along with the government.

Only 13 percent of Americans hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the last 10 years of rising health care costs, while 31 percent blame health insurance companies, and 25 percent blame the federal government, according to a Morning Consult poll released this month.

Outrage over rising drug costs has launched the issue to prominence in presidential campaigns and sparked a congressional investigation into drug companies that buy off-patent drugs and hike up their prices. Since the summer, the issue of drug prices has topped health care polls.

The most recent development, in which a few hedge funds have bought off-patent drugs that aren’t easy to manufacture and hiked up their prices, has captured Congressional attention. “It’s evil genius, is what it is,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), co-chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which is leading the investigation into the prices of four drug companies. But she also noted that the investigation is looking at a “discreet area” of a much broader industry.

Prices are up across the board so it’s probably a subject where the public, by and large, isn’t drilling down to the details all that much. As the Morning Consult study notes, national spending on health care was roughly $1.9T in 2004, but ten years later it has risen to more than $3T. Those aren’t just budget numbers on a line in some congressional spreadsheet… that’s real money being spent by working people around the country and that’s the sort of thing they do pay attention to.

The only surprising figure in here for me was the relatively low number of folks who see the direct effect of government meddling as being less of a cost driver than the insurance companies themselves. 25% seems on the low end, but then again the media has done one heck of a job marketing Obamacare for the administration, so that may be dragging their numbers up a bit. Still, as we discussed on Monday, most people are still finding that it’s better to pay the Obamacare penalty than to sign up for the insurance. Tax time is coming round again soon and those penalties will be coming due. How is it that the same folks getting hammered by this tax aren’t showing a bit more indignation about it? It may not look like part of the essential “cost of health care” in America, but it’s a directly related check to write next April.

So what do you think? The cost of prescription drugs is definitely rising faster than most other sectors of this market. Part of that is the fallout from investment groups buying out smaller drug manufacturers’ patents and pushing the envelope on the profit side. Should that be a bigger piece of the national discussion than it currently is or is the government thumb on the scales still the primary driver for most of you?

PillBottle


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Comments

LOL. Dems sure know how to avoid blame for their fvck ups.

Nomennovum on January 6, 2016 at 12:10 PM

So what do you think?

…I think the Pharma industry NEVER competes based on price…and consumers never pay the full price of meds…so Pharma can charge whatever they want and get away with it…

…and insurers hire PBM’s to manage their formularies so they don’t have anything to do with it…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:10 PM

what do you think? The cost of prescription drugs is definitely rising faster than most other sectors of this market. Part of that is the fallout from investment groups buying out smaller drug manufacturers’ patents and pushing the envelope on the profit side. Should that be a bigger piece of the national discussion than it currently is or is the government thumb on the scales still the primary driver for most of you?

Jazz, interesting question to think about. I suggest you read this WSJ article from a few days ago.

Why the U.S. Pays More Than Other Countries for Drugs

Killary's Server on January 6, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Don’t insurance companies have to pay out 80% of premium collected on claims? How is it the insurance industry’s fault that premiums are going up. Classic case of costs being passed on to consumers and the consumers clueless as to how economics works. A failure of our education system and media.

jjjdad on January 6, 2016 at 12:12 PM

…and I also think that FDA has had a hand in the myriad of Drug Shortages…and skimpy supply has driven up costs…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Thank god they don’t blame Obama…he’d cry.

AUINSC on January 6, 2016 at 12:14 PM

The only surprising figure in here for me was the relatively low number of folks who see the direct effect of government meddling as being less of a cost driver than the insurance companies themselves

Gruber was right…people are stooopid, the govt knows that, and treats the public accordingly…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:14 PM

Costs were high enough before ocommiecare, now they’re roughly 1/3 more than they were before this stupid effort at stealing as much of the US economy as he could for gov’t’s sake.

Pharma is corrupt, hospitals are corrupt, doctors are in bed with pharma, insurance companies threaten doctors financially, and on and on. It only got worse once the corrupt gov’t got involved.

Undo it all, then fix the problems, but start by stringing up the progressives.

Andy__B on January 6, 2016 at 12:15 PM

Very large corporations, both insurance and pharmaceutical, are so intertwined with the government that you can’t point your finger at one and say that’s the cause. The poll is meaningless emotional fluff. There is only one system, and it is nothing like capitalism.

And it’s understandable. People like to stay alive. Food and health care are vital to staying alive. Somebody ought to do something! Government needs to get involved! It doesn’t matter what actually works, people want to force it to work, harder and faster.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 12:16 PM

As a longtime Big Pharma employee dabbling in regulatory affairs, I can tell you that we’d be happy to release and sell new drugs for a small fraction of today’s money if not for the countless hoops FDA forces us to jump through. Moreover, overpriced drugs account for less than 10% of the price inflation in healthcare industry. Protective overtesting, price gouging, bill padding and insane malpractice insurance rates are far more responsible.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:20 PM

My premiums went up and my deductible went up. I can see paying higher insurance for a lower deductible or vice versa. The only explanation for me is government meddling. Old plan: Drug my wife used $40 co pay. New Plan: $400. I guess she doesn’t need the drug that bad.

Obamacare was never about HEALTHCARE. They never said it would mean better care. People are making decisions based on costs, just like they did before. It just spreads the misery to put more people at risk for not taking care of themselves.

jjjdad on January 6, 2016 at 12:21 PM

…according to Cardinal Health (drug wholesaler) yesterday, the price for a vial of Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12) was $111 (last year it was $12)…so how is that the fault of an insurance company…??

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:24 PM

I work for big pharma. As in I work for pretty much all of big pharma as their outsourced research and regulatory approval department.

My labor rates are confiscatory, sometimes upwards of $500/hr depending on the protocol/project.

If I didn’t charge that much, I would have to much business.

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:25 PM

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:24 PM

Seriously? What is the price of auto-body repair?

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM

I work for big pharma. As in I work for pretty much all of big pharma as their outsourced research and regulatory approval department.

My labor rates are confiscatory, sometimes upwards of $500/hr depending on the protocol/project.

If I didn’t charge that much, I would have to much business.

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:25 PM

Jesus H. Christ, can I work for you, for half the rate?!

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Seriously? What is the price of auto-body repair?

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM

…yes…seriously…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:31 PM

Who lets these industries get out of control? The government that is supposedly looking out for the people. Get the government out of it, make the healthcare industry actually held to the same laws that other industries are and you will see costs go down. Many will whine because they’ll be out of a job though and fewer payoffs for corrupt politicians.

Pharma is protected by law from cheap drugs sold overseas being imported or reimported by individuals of companies here in America. $100 scorpion anti-venom is sold for $30k in US. Insurance is out of control, it was before obamacare. When I pay cash at a doc in 2008 they tell me they’ll drop the charges down from $400 to $240. Then it took them a couple of minutes to actually print me out a bill of sale listing what they did and charged me for. “Sorry, we don’t usually do this, not sure how to get it to work.”

The US Supreme Court ruled recently that it was legal for a guy to re-import college text books that were cheaper overseas. Can we do that with drugs? Nope. Its a federal FELONY.

OBAMACARE was all about ENSLAVING US to the GOVERNMENT and their partners in the greedy healthcare industry.

oryguncon on January 6, 2016 at 12:32 PM

…according to Cardinal Health (drug wholesaler) yesterday, the price for a vial of Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12) was $111 (last year it was $12)…so how is that the fault of an insurance company…??

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:24 PM

Google it up. The current retail price is $20-30, so I presume the wholesale is about half that. Yes, it is insurance company’s gouging.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:33 PM

Seriously? What is the price of auto-body repair?

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM

Why am I paying $60-100/hr to get handyman work done?

LoganSix on January 6, 2016 at 12:34 PM

Google it up. The current retail price is $20-30, so I presume the wholesale is about half that. Yes, it is insurance company’s gouging.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:33 PM

…huh..??…the wholesaler is buying it directly from the manufacturer…so how is an insurer involved..??

…and I don’t need to “google” it…I have direct access to Cardinal Health’s Order Express…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

It’s hard to ignore that the insurance companies tried to hedge their bets with Obamacare. A pox on all of them.

Cindy Munford on January 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:25 PM

Jesus H. Christ, can I work for you, for half the rate?!

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:30 PM

I’ll go as low as a quarter the rate, or less as a regular employee. But seriously, it’s probably not worth it to him to expand and hire people, even though I guess maybe he could. Just because you’ve got enough money, doesn’t mean you can buy more time in life.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

…huh..??…the wholesaler is buying it directly from the manufacturer…so how is an insurer involved..??

…and I don’t need to “google” it…I have direct access to Cardinal Health’s Order Express…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Then it’s the wholesaler who is screwing you. Google it up, man, it’s not even a prescription med.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:36 PM

If I didn’t charge that much, I would have to much business.

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:25 PM

Well, lucky you. high roller… you might consider using some of those Big pharma profits for English language lessons. It’s “too much,” not “to much.”

loubkk on January 6, 2016 at 12:36 PM

Seriously? What is the price of auto-body repair?

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM

At least the auto repair industry has to tell you what their services will cost. The healthcare industry? Hah. Hah. Hah.

The idiots here in Oregon in 2007 made sudafed require a prescription from a doctor to combat meth. All that did was make meth imported more from Mexico or other states and drive up the cost of sudafed for people using it for non meth making reasons from $5-10 over the counter to $50+. I’ve not bought sudafed from a pharmacy here since then. It is cheaper for me to drive 80 miles each way to WA. If I go to my doc and use my insurance, I won’t know the total cost for at least a month, besides my $35 copay.

But hey, supposedly we have fewer local meth labs and that has saved kids lives and local cleanup costs. More cash for welfare and supporting sanctuary cities.

oryguncon on January 6, 2016 at 12:37 PM

…huh..??…the wholesaler is buying it directly from the manufacturer…so how is an insurer involved..??

…and I don’t need to “google” it…I have direct access to Cardinal Health’s Order Express…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Who are you buying it from?
So, the insurance company says what the price is. The pharmacy/hospital agrees to the price. You pay the difference and the insurance/pharmacy/hospital add more marble floors to their entrance.

LoganSix on January 6, 2016 at 12:38 PM

Ted Kennedy is who I blame. (Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973) Obama just pushed the needle more. Make no mistake the dems have been reshaping the health industry for decades with the ultimate goal of single payer.

clement on January 6, 2016 at 12:39 PM

The inconvenient truth is that developed countries with health care outcomes similar to (or better than) the U.S.’s have more government involvement and lower costs. They don’t have insurance companies sucking up 20 percent of health care spending in overhead and profits, and drug companies dictating prices.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

I’ll go as low as a quarter the rate, or less as a regular employee. But seriously, it’s probably not worth it to him to expand and hire people, even though I guess maybe he could. Just because you’ve got enough money, doesn’t mean you can buy more time in life.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

I am honestly surprised by his number, since I’m seeing and occasionally signing checks that go to our CRO’s. A good CRO statistician gets $80/hr, a programmer maybe $50-55, an exceptional independent contractor may score double that. If the rate goes any higher the protocol will be worth either doing in-house or shipping to Asian CRO’s.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

Then it’s the wholesaler who is screwing you. Google it up, man, it’s not even a prescription med.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:36 PM

…Mylan Industries had a price increase exactly one year ago…Ascorbic Acid went from $20 to $70 per vial…B-Complex Vitamins went from $55 to $280…that wasn’t wholesaler “gouging”…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:41 PM

I’ll go as low as a quarter the rate, or less as a regular employee. But seriously, it’s probably not worth it to him to expand and hire people, even though I guess maybe he could. Just because you’ve got enough money, doesn’t mean you can buy more time in life.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

My industry is very cyclical based on sponsor/clients research capital funding and compound efficacy in early trials.

Basically I’m always busy, but sometimes I’m super busy to the point where I’d definitely think about bringing people on board but can’t because I’d just have to fire them when the cycle bottomed out – however you also have to realize that my billable rate is also paying for our accounting department, HR, cafeteria, legal, regulatory, IT and every other non-billable parasite in my organization.

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Who are you buying it from?

…Cardinal Health…

So, the insurance company says what the price is. The pharmacy/hospital agrees to the price. You pay the difference and the insurance/pharmacy/hospital add more marble floors to their entrance.

LoganSix on January 6, 2016 at 12:38 PM

…once again an Insurance Company isn’t involved in the transaction…manufacturer===>wholesaler===>pharmacy===>public…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:43 PM

The inconvenient truth is that developed countries with health care outcomes similar to (or better than) the U.S.’s have more government involvement and lower costs. They don’t have insurance companies sucking up 20 percent of health care spending in overhead and profits, and drug companies dictating prices.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

Gee, I thought the inconvenient truth was, that if the US did what Canada and other socialist health care countries did, then the drug companies would go out of business and there would be no new drugs, since they couldn’t afford to make 100+ attempts before getting that one drug that makes it to market.

LoganSix on January 6, 2016 at 12:43 PM

The inconvenient truth is that developed countries with health care outcomes similar to (or better than) the U.S.’s have more government involvement and lower costs. They don’t have insurance companies sucking up 20 percent of health care spending in overhead and profits, and drug companies dictating prices.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

As if the governmental bureaucrats managing healthcare do it for free, out of kindness of their hearts. The true reason is our insane legal system that testing costs and forces malpractice insurance rates up. You want cheaper, more available medicine – talk to the ABA, it’s your progressive lobby, isn’t it?

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:44 PM

Government is to blame.
For prescriptions, they keep extending patents well beyond rational periods of time before making them generic.
They also cause the cost of bringing a drug to market to be prohibitively expensive, requiring companies to make up that money on early sales, and make up more money on all sales for the drugs that fail to make it through the gauntlet.
For medical care, the insurance, which is mostly subsidized by the government through tax breaks, causes a separation from services and costs for the end user. Which means no one is willing to shop around for better prices or for less costly care alternatives. The best care and most expensive options cost the end user the same amount of money. Due to insurance, no doctors give any estimates to costs, and if they do those estimates are worthless. $1200 to $25,000 for the procedure, do you want to proceed?
The distortion continues with medicaid and medicare which pays low amounts for many medical activities which then causes the providers to increase the costs to those on insurance, because they can, to make enough profit to stay in business.
We effectively have no choice in the medical market, because it is run by who ever does the licensing of the doctors and the government dictating what requires a doctor (almost everything) and what you can get from a nurse (almost nothing) and what you can get from a quack down the street (nothing at all).
There is plenty of blame to go around, but the insurance industry is pretty low in my books for being the driver of the costs.

Constitutionalist on January 6, 2016 at 12:45 PM

The inconvenient truth is that developed countries with health care outcomes similar to (or better than) the U.S.’s have more government involvement and lower costs. They don’t have insurance companies sucking up 20 percent of health care spending in overhead and profits, and drug companies dictating prices.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

…the “inconvenient truth” is that you don’t know spit…our Govt purchases meds at a discounted rate and someone has to pay the difference…

…the only way single payor lowers costs is thru cutting services…

…you might wanna stay out of conversations when you don’t have a clue…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:45 PM

…however you also have to realize that my billable rate is also paying for our accounting department, HR, cafeteria, legal, regulatory, IT and every other non-billable parasite in my organization.

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Oh. I thought that was your personal billable rate.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:47 PM

Maybe part of the problem is that too many people believe doctors when they say you need this or that drug… and once you start you are hooked… exactly like the street dealer who gives you your first bump for free… perhaps, just maybe, you don’t really need it in the first place…
Somewhere along the line doctors became the unimpeachable priests of our society… Dr. “Make Us Well Be”… (remember Marcus Welby?)
I’m not meaning to express disrespect for the medical profession, but just saying that many folks put all their faith about their health someone who is essentially just another human being who went to school a little longer…

loubkk on January 6, 2016 at 12:48 PM

For prescriptions, they keep extending patents well beyond rational periods of time before making them generic.

Constitutionalist on January 6, 2016 at 12:45 PM

..a good point…pharma companies no utilize “use-patents” that help prevent entry of less expensive generics…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:49 PM

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

Of course this is the internet, so you never know. And I’m not in that industry, but I’m not really surprised. I’m sure you know better than me, but nothing surprises me any more when it comes to government excess.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 12:49 PM

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

…you might wanna stay out of conversations when you don’t have a clue…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Well, if that’s the case then urban dipshit would never be able to comment here.

I like it.

HumpBot Salvation on January 6, 2016 at 12:50 PM

…however you also have to realize that my billable rate is also paying for our accounting department, HR, cafeteria, legal, regulatory, IT and every other non-billable parasite in my organization.

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:42 PM

You should just fire them and go it alone! :)

Constitutionalist on January 6, 2016 at 12:51 PM

…yes…seriously…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:31 PM

When you are forced to buy a product, in this case mandatory health insurance, there is no incentive to control costs. Suppliers and insurers are both dumping on the consumer.

that’s why you get crap like this.

http://wonkette.com/594159/douchebag-pharma-ceo-raises-drug-price-5000-because-screw-your-sick-baby

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:52 PM

Nice, since the high health care costs are caused by the government. Laws, regulations (many drugs only available here by RX are available over the counter in other countries), hideously expensive drug trials, government subsidies for medical cronies and pressure groups, tort laws, expensive government subsidies for some diseases but not others, and new bogus treatments? (gender identity disorder) constantly added to insurance coverage, leaves people scratching their head at high health costs?

Viator on January 6, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Why am I paying $60-100/hr to get handyman work done?

LoganSix on January 6, 2016 at 12:34 PM

chump change compared to the rise in med costs thanks to zero care.

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Sort of like lawyers’ billable hours, I guess. Still a lot.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Gee, I thought the inconvenient truth was, that if the US did what Canada and other socialist health care countries did, then the drug companies would go out of business and there would be no new drugs, since they couldn’t afford to make 100+ attempts before getting that one drug that makes it to market.

LoganSix on January 6, 2016 at 12:43 PM

I guess you’ve been reading drug company propaganda rather than actual factual reporting, then. There is plenty of room for profit in negotiated prices. You might note that the negotiates the cost of everything from bombers to office supplies, and yet is able to procure plentiful supplies of both.

…the “inconvenient truth” is that you don’t know spit…our Govt purchases meds at a discounted rate and someone has to pay the difference…

…the only way single payor lowers costs is thru cutting services…
…you might wanna stay out of conversations when you don’t have a clue…
Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Your ignorance is overwhelming. In some socialist countries, wait time to see a doctor is actually faster than the U.S. And health outcomes are better. You also see countries like France and Australia, with a blended system, where yiu an supplement government-provided care with private insurance. Here again, costs are dramatically lower.

The insurance industry is a huge money suck — it provides mm I service that the government can’t provide, while skimming hundreds of billions of dollars off the top and fighting yiu when you need treatment.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:54 PM

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:52 PM

…even Great Britain’s NHS has been forced to control costs…by reducing services…here we call them “death panels”…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:55 PM

You should just fire them and go it alone! :)

Constitutionalist on January 6, 2016 at 12:51 PM

Pharma industry is like dating: the smaller you are, the less business you get. One’s ability to deliver is important, but being 100% sure that one will still be in business by the submission time is at least equally important.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Your ignorance is overwhelming.
urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:54 PM

…no yours is…you prove it on a daily basis…(applause)…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 12:57 PM

The inconvenient truth is that developed countries with health care outcomes similar to (or better than) the U.S.’s have more government involvement and lower costs. They don’t have insurance companies sucking up 20 percent of health care spending in overhead and profits, and drug companies dictating prices.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

So we can rename it DHHS, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Division and claim we’ve cut health care costs?

Stellar!

WryTrvllr on January 6, 2016 at 12:57 PM

The insurance industry is a huge money suck — it provides mm I service that the government can’t provide, while skimming hundreds of billions of dollars off the top and fighting yiu when you need treatment.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:54 PM

…insurers are required BY LAW to return any excess profits back to the insured…and Medicare is the biggest denier of services on a case-by-case basis…

…OCare deliberately paid insurers through risk corridor payments to make up for losses…and it hasn’t been enough…

…you don’t know squat…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Oh. I thought that was your personal billable rate.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:47 PM

It is. But my PERSONAL billable rate is outlined in the project budget. All of those parasites aren’t.

Mind you, my whole job can be boiled down to a simple task: Dealing with the FDA red tape.

The letters “FDA” are like saying “Voldemort” around the office. Don’t say it too loudly or they’ll show up and make our lives miserable. We’re not doing anything wrong, but proving that to the feds takes hundreds of billable hours away from client/sponsor timelines.

Just this week, I got a directive that I have to start using BLUE INK PENS, a specific brand because some European regulatory agency has dictated that we have to use these specific, expensive pens on all of our paperwork.

Which brings me to another point of ridiculous regulatory requirements. I’m a software developer, but MOST of my day is printing out paperwork, signing it, scanning it, then boxing up the original and fedexing it off to parts unknown for archiving. All to feed the dead-tree-society’s insatiable appetite to nanny and nitpick every thing that I do.

For example, I was asked to change a simple settings flag on one of our enterprise applications that would change the default color of a particular kind of user alert. After a 2 hour meeting with the internal team explaining to them that this was a futile endeavor, they explained that the client was going to pay for it so I relented.

I then asked the requestor to generate a change request specification. I printed it out, signed the receipt signature line, scanned it, send it off. I then took that same document and filled in the technical impact analysis. Printed it, signed it yadda yadda. Change gets approved by upper management, so I have to print out another checklist/form that guides me through the settings change process (note, this is a simple checkbox on a website I have to change). After I download the pre change configuration file, I make the change, take a screenshot, add it to the process doc, sign, scan, yadda…

God I’m only a quarter of the way through it and I’m already irritated. NOTE: I’m being paid $500/hr to change a checkbox on a webform. What would normally take about 30 seconds ends up taking over an hour.

That’s a cost that gets passed through to consumers.

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Old news. Tells you how well the media doesn’t tell you who the big players are:

http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/02/11/12175/opinion-big-pharmas-stranglehold-washington

An Excerpt:

You might think our nation’s defense and aerospace companies, which have legions of hired guns on Capitol Hill, are the leaders. Or perhaps Big Oil, which is perpetually fighting with environmentalists and consequently needs friends in Washington to block what it considers onerous legislation or regulations.

In both cases, you’d be wrong. It’s actually the pharmaceutical industry that spends the most each year to influence our lawmakers, forking over a total of $2.6 billion on lobbying activities from 1998 through 2012, according to OpenSecrets.org. To get some perspective on just how big that number is, consider that oil and gas companies and their trade associations spent $1.4 billion lobbying Congress over the same time frame while the defense and aerospace industry spent $662 million, a fourth of Big Pharma’s total.

Turtle317 on January 6, 2016 at 1:04 PM

So what do you think?

All you have to do is look at profit margins. Health insurance companies and “health plans” still rank in the bottom third of all industries for profitability, generally achieving profit margins in the 4-6% range. Pharmaceutical companies are near the top. Bottom line is that insurance premiums are directly related to billed costs. Insurance companies don’t charge, they pay. Insurance companies don’t create health care cost increases, they react to them. With the MLR limits in Obamacare (and the risk shares within the exchanges), insurance companies are basically capped on profit and admin costs. So the public’s blame is very misplaced but completely understandable considering how the media and the administration paint the picture.

gengwall on January 6, 2016 at 1:08 PM

Your ignorance is overwhelming. In some socialist countries, wait time to see a doctor is actually faster than the U.S. And health outcomes are better.

Ah, check again. Canada, as an example, perennially ranks last among developed countries in wait times for specialists and elective surgeries (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/medical-wait-times-up-to-3-times-longer-in-canada-1.2663013)

gengwall on January 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM

insurers are required BY LAW to return any excess profits back to the insured…and Medicare is the biggest denier of services on a case-by-case basis…

…OCare deliberately paid insurers through risk corridor payments to make up for losses…and it hasn’t been enough…

…you don’t know squat…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM

What are you, an AETNA shareholder? Non-“excess” profits are still money that is skimmed off the top rather than used to pay for health care. Seven-figure executive salaries and bonuses are not profits but still money that is skinned off the top rather than spent for health care. First class executive travel, nationwide ad campaigns, and the salary of the drone who tells you your claim is denied are not profits, but they are still money skimmed off the top that is not spent on health care.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM

The insurance industry is a huge money suck — it provides mm I service that the government can’t provide, while skimming hundreds of billions of dollars off the top and fighting yiu when you need treatment.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:54 PM

So why did you guys gut $700 billion from Medicare, the closest thing we have to a universal healthcare program, and send the insurance companies half a trillion dollars in subsidies?

Chuck Schick on January 6, 2016 at 1:13 PM

Defenestratus on January 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM

I feel your problems, bro. I do pretty much same, except a a brand company employee, with a respectable salary that is still, unfortunately, nowhere close to your rate.

I also hope we agree that the Pharma is not responsible for it, FDA is.

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 1:17 PM

Non-“excess” profits are still money that is skimmed off the top rather than used to pay for health care.

What is your point. It is returned to policy holders so it is mot revenue retained by the health insurer.

Bottom line – health insurer admin expenses (including salaries) average around 10% of revenue and profits range around 4-6%. Neither of these figures is excessive.

Seven-figure executive salaries and bonuses are not profits but still money that is skinned off the top rather than spent for health care.

I did a study once on executive salaries at one of the big three health insurers. if you completely wiped out the salaries of the top 5 executives, you would only impact premiums about 10 cents per $100, or 1/10th of 1 percent. Executive salaries are not the cause of increased health care costs.

gengwall on January 6, 2016 at 1:19 PM

The inconvenient truth is that developed countries with health care outcomes similar to (or better than) the U.S.’s have more government involvement and lower costs. They don’t have insurance companies sucking up 20 percent of health care spending in overhead and profits, and drug companies dictating prices.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

ObamaCare only entrenched this problem. This is your inconvenient truth.

Chuck Schick on January 6, 2016 at 1:20 PM

What are you, an AETNA shareholder?

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM

…moron loses an argument, reverts to BEE-ESS…LOL…

Pelosi Schmelosi on January 6, 2016 at 1:21 PM

What are you, an AETNA shareholder?

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM

No, but I have a healthcare ETF that has more than doubled since ObamaCare passed.

Any guess why?

Chuck Schick on January 6, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Hi Def, Hi Rix,

While I can be sympathetic to you both over the regulatory inefficiencies imposed by the FDA, and yes, the costs DO pass to the consumer, there is STILL the glaring fact the pharma industry is the #1 most influential lobbyist in Washington.

$2.6 billion from 1998-2012 is not chump change.

I think you guys need to negotiate higher rates and get your bosses to cut lobbying costs.

Who knows? The cost of phama may actually go DOWN?

Turtle317 on January 6, 2016 at 1:23 PM

First class executive travel, nationwide ad campaigns, and the salary of the drone who tells you your claim is denied are not profits, but they are still money skimmed off the top that is not spent on health care.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM

Fun fact I learned from a relative who worked as a customer service drone in healthcare insurance five years ago. The Fed Gov. with medicare requires insurance companies pay out care providers within 30 days of getting a bill. The Fed Gov gives itself 90 days to pay the insurance company it has hired to do their work for them.

I also learned never to do auto-billing/withdrawls from your bank account for insurance. The gov lags behind any changes by 1-2 months. Watch as they take out too much money from your account and guess how long it takes to get that cash back?

But you know, SOCIALISM TOTALLY WORKS YOU GUYS! UE, keep pickin that cotton you idiot slave.

oryguncon on January 6, 2016 at 1:48 PM

I guess you’ve been reading drug company propaganda rather than actual factual reporting, then. There is plenty of room for profit in negotiated prices. You might note that the negotiates the cost of everything from bombers to office supplies, and yet is able to procure plentiful supplies of both.

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:54 PM

If the Fed controls the health care, they decide what the costs are and what is made.

A good example is doctors refusing Medicare/Medicaid patients because the government doesn’t pay enough to offset the costs.

LoganSix on January 6, 2016 at 1:51 PM

An amusing bit of inaccurate spelling quoted in the article. I am pretty sure that Claire McCaskill means she is looking at a “discrete” segment of the industry, not a “discreet” one. Changing the position of the “t” and the “e” radically alters the meaning.

Though perhaps she DOES mean “discreet” after all. She is in politics…

DrUrchin on January 6, 2016 at 2:03 PM

urban elitist on January 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM

As if the governmental bureaucrats managing healthcare do it for free,

Rix on January 6, 2016 at 12:44 PM

I think Urban believes this. What an economic illiterate.

CWforFreedom on January 6, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Don’t argue with UE – he (or she) knows zippo about the health care market. He can repeat the “facts” (also known as propaganda) he has been given by his handlers.

A couple of things to remember –

ObamaCare is forcing the consolidation of health care insurers in the US, by their own admission (and I know some higher up execs) they are forecasting 2-3 major players in the market when it is all said an done. Insurance companies are a pretty consistent 4-5% return annually – no home run, but no disasters either – so if the remaining players who have the scope to eat the reduced allowable overhead percentages consolidate all the health care spending through them, that is a very nice consistent amount of cash – especially in a world where passbook savings rates are almost zero.

Pharma is a unique area where the US is really the only place where investment expenses have a regular possibility of being recouped. When the push to bring in Canadian drugs was really going gonzo the big pharm just said they would only sell “x” amount of drugs to Canada consistent with domestic needs since it was all price controlled. That meant that with every import to the US a Canadian patient would go without – gotta love that govt health care system up there.

It is also unique in that the number of entities that get involved in the selling of the product from the manufacturer to the end user is somewhat mindboggling. There isn’t just a warehousing price. It can pass through multiple hands, each who take a cut. So it is the distribution chain which is expensive here, though it does make sure you can almost always get what you need when you want it. There is not a single retail fixed price for anything outside of the most basic OTC meds. It varies by PBM, by retail outlet, and by distribution channel. You’d be surprised. When I was in my med plan running days I was able to find a very unusual way to find a better purchase path to give generics away for free and spend less money that I did through my health plan. It was all based upon the way I bought vs how the insurer bought – and in my case since I was self insured, the insurer wasn’t taking a product cut, thought they were no doubt sucking up rebates and the like.

Zomcon JEM on January 6, 2016 at 3:11 PM

I know a nice couple who live in Massachusetts. The male is from Canada as is his family, the female from NY. The husband’s dad developed cancer in Canada. Guess where the dad is now for treatment?
Massachusetts.

Viator on January 6, 2016 at 3:16 PM

And yes, the highest refusal to pay claim insurance is the govt – hands down. They lose every year. Never expect the money to move quickly – which is why increasingly docs are restricting medicare patients much like they always have for medicaid.

The US system is pricey – it also deals with a patient cohort which is sicker than many of its european cousins. This is due to a variety of things, we work too hard, we are too sedentary (we are efficiency freaks here which minimizes activity), and our low fat high carb diets suck big time. We have diabetes like crazy.

Of course we also do more screenings, and have the best outcomes for most acute services. Other countries hate our services so much that Canadians are taking it well that Obamacare has reduced access to northern US hospitals which was their safety net from a Canadian system that wasn’t too responsive. There were some activities going on to reduce some of this unresponsiveness but with the new little lefty junior just elected up in Ottawa, I’m sure that will dry up.

Zomcon JEM on January 6, 2016 at 3:18 PM

Viator on January 6, 2016 at 3:16 PM

This is almost always the case. Some exceptions can be found – some interesting cancer stuff going on in Germany for instance. But generally, if you have a bad disease or condition, you try to get here.

Zomcon JEM on January 6, 2016 at 3:20 PM

How is it that the same folks getting hammered by this tax aren’t showing a bit more indignation about it? – Jazz Shaw

You really are a koolaid drinker if you don’t think the media is manipulating this, Jazz. I’m willing to bet plenty of people are angry about it, but the media is ignoring it. Same as they only report about insignificant nonsense regarding Trump and never cover anything substantial that he says. Take your blinders off and put your filters on. The information age is thick with propaganda.

earlgrey on January 6, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Makes perfect sense to me.
That’s why I blame Exxon and Chevron for the high price of a brand new Cadillac Escalade.
Because I’m an economic illiterate, And get all of my ed-joo-cashun from the network news and Facebook.
…or, not.

orangemtl on January 6, 2016 at 8:30 PM

Its both, but the drug companies are the worst! Imagine how its fair that in say, Spain, India, Mexico etc they pay 1$ for the same drug they charge America $100 for??? I dare any dem/lib to look that up. Drug companies are raping America and their excuse is they need to charge us more to fund their research for new drugs. The problem with that though is they aren’t really making new drugs, just adding 1 ingredient to an existing drug and calling it new then charging double for it. Germany/France and Israel is where new drugs are really being developed.

soapyjeans on January 6, 2016 at 8:39 PM

The average costs bring a new drug to market from initial development is around a billion dollars. Pricing is then PARTLY based upon the number of users. Fifty million users? Relatively low price. Five hundred users? Astronomical cost.
Numerous new agents have been developed in oncology. Some great; some marginal; all expensive. Those who assert that “they just add another ingredient and call it new” are getting their information from the Food Network: not from science or medicine.
I’m an oncologist. Drugs are indeed far too expensive, and Pharma is no St Francis when it comes to pricing. Other countries ride on US pharmaceutical coattails both medically and economically. But vast progress has occurred in the past 30 years, and particularly in the past ten. And I’ve yet to have a patient ask me for an older, less effective treatment instead of the latest and best because it’s cheaper.
I don’t have a solution, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. Those who reject the cost of pharmaceutical progress might want to return to 1960, when life expectancy was about 71 and cure rates for cancer were about 35% (it’s now 70ish). I’ll just stay here in the 21st century, thanks.

orangemtl on January 6, 2016 at 8:51 PM

My cat needs Lantus insulin. The year before obamacare /health exchanges took effect it cost $200. Now it’s 255. Teddy the cat is subsiding the healthcare exchanges and he says MEOW!

hotdax on January 7, 2016 at 8:50 AM