Health Insurance and Campaign Contributions

Congressional Democrats are thinking of revoking the health insurance industry’s antitrust exemption; some insurers have spent as much as $20,000,000 opposing the current legislation.

Of course, insurers also gave $20,175,303 to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, roughly triple what McCain netted.

On one hand, this might look like the dog biting the hand that feeds. But really, it isn’t.

If the health care legislation passes, there is a good chance that every American would be required to purchase health insurance.

Suppose that happens. $40 million and change plus some antitrust troubles is a really small price to pay for a legal guarantee of vastly increased business, forever. Plus looking like you didn’t want the favor.

As my friend Jeremy Lott is so quick to remind, it is a wonder that politicians can be bought off so cheaply, given what they could charge for their services.

It is just as surprising that insurers would spend $20 million opposing legislation that would yield many times that in profit. As economist Bruce Yandle notes, “industry support of regulation is not rare at all; indeed, it is the norm. And in the United States it is as American as apple pie.”