Marc Montgomery, an insurance agent in Helena, Montana, waited 14 hours overnight to get a ticket for a Town Hall health insurance meeting last week in which President Obama fielded questions from Montana locals, trying to answer and ease their concerns.
In an interview with The Insurance Bellwether, Montgomery of Montgomery Insurance Services, says, “I was really happy to have the opportunity to address the President.”
What he is not so happy about is the Obama health plan and how insurers are being targeted as villains, he continues. “I honestly believe that if this liberal thinking is not slowed down or checked, we will not be able to sell insurance. The public plan will absolutely lead to the demise of health care as we know it today.”
“When the government subsidizes a program, how can regular programs compete?” he asks. He refers to the financial problems programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid face. Montgomery says that he believes that some plan will pass, although no one can be sure of what it will be.
So, what does Montgomery believe is the solution? First, he would remove the state regulatory system in favor of national regulation so that “the entire nation could be opened up” with options such as a national high risk pool. That pool could be funded by both government dollars and contributions from insurance companies, he says.
Montgomery says that state high risk pools are short on cash and a national high risk pool would take pressure off states. He says that he is familiar with this issue because his wife is part of Montana’s high-risk health pool. It works well, but recently members were informed that the pool is underfunded and will be in financial trouble unless Congress provides additional funds. And for states like California with bigger populations, the problem could be even bigger, he adds.
Other changes would include requiring insurers to cover preexisting conditions, although he notes that this will increase the cost of insurance. Tort reform is also needed, he adds. However, he does say that such change would just be part of the cost.
The biggest reason for health care’s skyrocketing costs is people not being able to pay their bills and many of those people are illegal aliens, Montgomery adds. Illegal aliens are paid little and can’t afford to pay, relegating their bills to the health care system, he explains. “Millions would be saved” if the system did not have to support illegal aliens, he adds.
When asked if he believes that up to two thirds of the cost for this program could come from greater efficiencies as the President said during the Belgrade, Mont. town meeting, Montgomery says that he doesn’t believe it because the “overwhelming majority of Americans are not going to put private information over the Internet.”
“My question to President Obama was ‘how did we start with health care reform and end up with health insurance reform?’”He says that he never received an answer to that question. “They are looking for someone to demonize and they went to the insurance companies.” While there may be some cases in which claims are not paid and should have been covered, Montgomery also notes that millions of Americans are getting their claims paid.
Montgomery said that the town meeting itself was cordial, possibly because Obama supporters had made a concerted effort to get many of the available tickets. However, outside the meeting there were large protests. “Yelling and screaming is wrong but these people need to be challenged on these ideas,” he asserts.
There are signs that the White House might be willing to reconsider the public option although some Congressmen say that a program without the option won’t have their vote. More will unfold in the coming weeks.