In this Halloween season, Team Obama and other Congressional Democrats want you to believe that health insurance executives are bogeymen, villains to be loathed as well as feared.
But, like so many of the con jobs the Dems are trying to pull on the public, this one turns out to a lot more "trick" than it is "treat."
And even the AP story by Calvin Woodward that made Yahoo's Fact Check headlines gets it.
Quick quiz: What do these enterprises have in common? Farm and construction machinery, Tupperware, the railroads, Hershey sweets, Yum food brands and Yahoo? Answer: They're all more profitable than the health insurance industry.
In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making "immoral" and "obscene" returns while "the bodies pile up."
Ledgers tell a different reality. Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That's anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.
Profits barely exceeded 2 percent of revenues in the latest annual measure. This partly explains why the credit ratings of some of the largest insurers were downgraded to negative from stable heading into this year, as investors were warned of a stagnant if not shrinking market for private plans.Such a public option would force private insurers to trim profits and restrain premiums to compete, the argument goes. This would "keep insurance companies honest," says President Barack Obama.
The debate is loaded with intimations that insurers are less than straight, when they are not flatly accused of malfeasance.
They may not have helped their case by commissioning a report that looked primarily at the elements of health care legislation that might drive consumer costs up while ignoring elements aimed at bringing costs down. Few in the debate seem interested in a true balance sheet.
But in pillorying insurers over profits, the critics are on shaky ground...