AHIP President Karen Ignagni Talks about Health Care Costs and the “Other 94 Percent”
The president of America’s Health Insurance Plans targets the role hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and technology firms play in the escalating costs of health care
Karen Ignagni, President and Chief Executive Officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), was the featured speaker at “Navigating the Affordable Care Act: Opportunities and Challenges,” a forum hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs Thursday morning.
Ignagni presented her talk as a dialogue addressing the need to achieve high quality of health care and also a cost effective system.
Though issues related to cost definitely took center stage.
In her 40 minute speech, the AHIP president referred to the cost of health care 57 times, compared to just nine comments related to the quality of care that individuals receive.
Ignagni’s central point with relation to cost was that, in the speaker’s view, the insurance industry has been unfairly signaled out for critique in policy discussions when it comes to the nation’s rising costs of heath care, while other key players such as hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and technology firms have not had their feet held to the fire.
Ignagni insists her industry is trying to reduce the cost of care, and cited government data which shows that even though health plans amount to just six percent of total national health care costs, “We haven’t had a dialogue about the other 94 percent.”
In reviewing the run-up to the passage of the ACA, Ignagni said while “The health care debate in 2009 shrunk to insurance reform, the issue of cost containment really didn’t get attacked the way it needs to get attacked.”
Ignagni insisted, “Our rates reflect the underlying costs of what’s being charged” and that true cost containment was “left on the cutting room floor” back in 2009.
At an event in which the $64,000 question revolved around the forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on the ACA, Ignagni refused to take the bait and asserted, “Although a lot of hot air is being consumed on cable television, nobody has a clear crystal ball in terms of what the justices are likely to do.”
The AHIP president called out the media for its “rush to judgment” and its about-face from certainty that the ACA would be upheld before oral arguments to claims that it will now be ruled unconstitutional.
Ignagni ended her speech by relaying the frustrating attempts to get meaningful cost control measures addressed in Washington, D.C. where the power brokers say, “It’s too hard to take on because my cost containment is someone else’s revenue reduction. And members of Congress – it’s like yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded room. They run from that type of discussion.”
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If it reduces health care costs…then this sounds like a good idea. After all, it’s supposed to be health care reform, not health insurance reform.