Charlie Rose Gets To The Point

One of the better analyses of the health reform process I’ve seen thus far comes from a conversation between Emmy-award winning interviewer Charlie Rose and Aetna CEO Ron Williams.  The interview, which is published in Business Week magazine, serves as a reality check of sorts for those who believe that the passage of the health reform bill is going to automatically result in lower health costs for consumers.  In the interview, Williams answers affirmatively when Rose asks if health premiums are going to increase.

“The answer is yes, and some of the things that will drive those premiums are significant additional taxes that the industry will have to pay in the first year…You might have plans that have richer benefits, and therefore you’re going to pay for benefits you may or may not want.”

Ron Williams is right.  You can’t take some of the actions that were included in this health reform bill – steep taxes on health sectors, more government mandates on what must be included in benefit packages, a potentially week individual mandate structure that may encourage healthy Americans to pay a penalty instead of buying insurance – and expect consumer costs to decrease. 

The question is, if costs increase, will policymakers correct the flaws that lead to higher costs or will there be finger-pointing directed at various sectors of the healthcare industry?  Let’s hope we can continue the process of improving our health system without the demonization and blame games that marred the debate these last few months.