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Antitrust laws: health insurance exempt

I was surprised this week to learn that health insurance companies and medical malpractice insurance companies have a special exemption from federal antitrust laws.

Say what?

For at least the second time in my lifetime, Congress is turning itself inside out grappling with the health insurance / health care crisis, and the whole time this exemption, the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, has been on the books.

What kind of idiots do we have working for us in Washington, anyway? How smart do you have to be to see what such an exemption has done and continues to do to fair competition and competitive pricing? How smart do you have to be to see that eliminating this exemption would immediately, and at virtually no cost, make the health care insurance industry a competitive market once again?

Do we even need a competitive “public option” to make the insurance companies accountable for their pricing and policies? Why are we at each other’s throats over reform when revoking this one law would restore balance, sanity, and competition?

This all sounds much too simple to be true. There must be a great deal about the law (besides its fervent support by the health insurance industry) that I don’t understand. But at the moment I’m thinking it’s up to our lawmakers to demonstrate why — considering the situation today — this law is still on the books.

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