Mark Wagar of Empire Blue Cross offers perspective on the health insurance debate and takes questions from skeptics. It's interesting hearing from someone who actually knows what he is talking about.
A few points made in this audio (at least, by my interpretation):
>> Insurance prices are admittedly unsustainable - but that has to do with the actual medical costs, not the insurance companies. Real reform has to address underlying costs, not just mandate lower prices (doing so would bankrupt hospitals, which wouldn't help anyone).
>> "Profit" is mandated by law for insurance companies. Far from being "wasteful" and "unneeded," the margin of profit an insurance company makes is what guarantees continued coverage. Systems without some "profit" will end up like Medicare - losing money and going bankrupt. The profits made by insurance companies are what "insure" people that the company can continue to exist and will have funds available to cover their claims.
>> Competition is welcomed by insurers, but not competition that is stacked in the government's favor (as would be the case if the "public option" is added to the system). This "public option" would likely have the benefit of being not paying taxes as private plans would, being able to fix prices and pass the real costs on to private plans, not being required to make a profit or maintain a cushion, and more. Of course, this would tend to the detriment or even destruction of private insurers, and would ultimately do nothing to help control the actual cost of health care in America.
>> One solution that seems to be supported in this audio is mandating coverage for all Americans (sort of the way car insurance is mandated, I suppose) - as has been done in Massachusetts, and guaranteeing that every applicant will be accepted and offered a policy. (Personal opinion: why not do this, then allow state governments to provide a safety net for those that cannot afford the policies they are offered? Then states would have some healthy competition with one another, and could experiment a bit and learn from the mistakes of others.)