Marcia Clemmitt

Insurers Gear Up to Fight National Health Insurance

Medicine & Health - September 15, 2003

"I believe we're on the verge of socializing health care," Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said...."If we don't restructure soon, we're going to have one payer for everybody." On recent visits to doctors and hospitals, DeMint found that many are very close "to throwing in the towel and asking the government to do it," he said.

Nevertheless, "solutions are sprouting up all around us," said DeMint. The Bush administration and congressional Republicans are doing as much as they can to ease the way by expanding eligibility for the various health-care cash accounts that have been created over the past several years and liberalizing rules for their use, he said.

But government officials can only do so much without demonstrated constituent will, and insurance companies must get more involved, DeMint said. Some in the industry may worry that, if consumers use their own dollars to choose their own providers, insurers' role could disappear. But "I believe insurance companies are going to make much more money as they manage these cash accounts," DeMint said.

Survey respondents gave "national health insurance" 57 fat points on McInturff's polling "thermometer" -- which measures the extent to which a word gives listeners warm, fuzzy feelings. "Government-run health care" registered a chilly 41.