Health-care insurer Highmark will raise SecurityBlue premiums 26 percent in 2010, demonstrating clearly that President Barack Obama's prediction that premiums will continue to rise unless comprehensive reform is instituted is correct.
It is clear to me that this large increase demonstrates that our insurance model -- people pay premiums and insurance companies pay bills -- is incapable of reducing costs or improving medical outcomes. The current system means spiraling premiums for years to come.
I think a public option makes sense since it will provide robust competition for the Highmarks of the world and focus their operations on where it must be: on containing costs and improving outcomes.
At the moment there is absolutely no motivation for insurers to do either.
Another positive step would be removing the anti-trust exemption that health insurers enjoy. How can you have a free market when major providers don't have to live up to anti-trust laws? And is there any rationale for limiting insurance companies' operations to within state borders?
If a true free-market system can improve our health-care system, then let's be sure that any new plan promotes aggressive competition. I don't see that happening without a strong new player, be it a public one or a nonprofit cooperative.
I hope Pennsylvania's senators and our region's congressmen recognize that Highmark's actions provide a clear picture into the future if we allow the status quo to continue: big premium increases.