Aug 21

Karl Denninger Rages: “Stop The Stupid!”:

Submitted by Karl Denninger via Market Ticker blog,

I tire of people who are too damned ignorant to be bothered with 30 seconds of research.

For example, one of the memes going around is how “evil” Aetna is because their CEO gets paid a lot of money.  The meme, of course, is that Aetna the company (and other health “insurers”) is screwing Americans out of huge amounts of money because they are refusing to continue selling “health insurance” at a loss through Obamacare exchanges, and told the government in advance that adverse action by them against a merger they wanted to conduct would lead them to not have the economy of scale required to defray those losses.

The government sued anyway, and they kept their promise.  For this they’re evil, you see.

Well, that would be fine and it might even be defensible, but for one tiny problem.

Aetna is $61 billion company (in revenue.)

The Federal Government alone, which is about one third of health spending in total, has spent just over $1 trillion dollars (that is, $1,000 billion) thus far this fiscal year, and has three months left to go.  It will thus probably spend somewhere north of $1,300 billion this year, and combined health spending in the nation will be about $4,000 billion this fiscal year.

Humana, by the way (the company they proposed to acquire) has $54 billion in annual revenue; in other words, the two combined would be about a $115 billion company.

Their revenue would amount to about three whole percent of the total, and in fact Humana has about a 1.8% (!!) profit margin and a 4.17 operating margin.  Their gross margin is about 19%.

Aetna has a 5% profit margin and a 27% gross profit margin.  In other words Aetna is the more-efficient company; Humana, the one Aetna wishes to take over, is the worse of the two.

But this belies the real issue because if you took all of Aetna’s and Humana’s gross profit — that is, you paid nobody in either company anything nor did you spend anything on investment or even the light bill you’d drop the cost of medical care in the United States by…… about 1%.

Did you get that folks?  All of this strum, furor and hatred if you could completely eliminate these firms “profiteering” from the picture (oh, and they do profiteer!) would result in a cost reduction of…… one percent.

In other words, statistically zero.

But heh, it’s popular to bash people like this.

Now tell me why you’re not instead advocating for jailing all of the medical industry folks from the local hospital administrator to doctors to pharma companies and more?  It’s not like there isn’t plenty of existing law to jail them with either, because there is.

See, if you went after all of those folks for what facially appear to be rank violations of 15 USC — Federal Law that has stood for more than 100 years — you would drop the cost of health care to somewhere between one tenth and one fifth of what it is now.

Instead of a 1% reduction predicated on completely destroying two companies you’d get an 80% reduction which would eliminate the need for Obamacare and most medical “insurance” entirely, premiums would drop to less than your car insurance payment and thus would require no subsidies at all and federal, state and local government budgetary deficits and funding problems would all disappear.

But to do that you have to think.

It’s easier to hate the big executive instead of pointing the finger where it belongs – at the monopolists who have driven EpiPen prices from $100 to $400 while the actual cost of the drug is literal pennies.  In anything approaching an actual market where competition was both protected and those seeking to block it imprisoned as the law directs those pens would cost $20 and available over the counter.

PS: Socializing medicine will not fix any of this; it will simply shift all of it to the federal government which will be driven into either fiscal insolvency or cut off services to tens of millions of Americans who will then, as a consequence, die.

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