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WASHINGTON — The health-insurance industry’s top lobbyist estimated Thursday that insurers will face up to $225 billion in new taxes and fees under a final health bill. They are asking to have the tax removed before the bill is finalized in January/February. Profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage. For 2008 and 2009, “They (the insurance companies) are losing a lot of customers in this economy”, but “the profits are still significant, there’s no question about that”, said Steve Shubitz, a health care financial analyst with the investment firm Edward Jones.

One of the major reasons, according to a May 2009 study, is the growing lack of competition in the private health insurance industry that has led to near monopoly conditions in many markets. Will this change things?

“Our fees are going to be well in excess of $200 billion, probably in the neighborhood of about $225 [billion] or so” over a decade, said the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans. Insurers say that could raise costs for people who don’t have insurance through their job… or work for a small company. That is a lot of my patients.

Insurance. Wow. I don’t know what the best solution is. Talk with me about it at your next appointment!

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