Given my usual warning, I don’t want to discuss politics in my writings for two reasons: it bores me to death and I’ll upset 55% of my readers. But an investor cannot ignore politics especially today. What happens in Washington doesn’t stay in Washington.
In his healthcare proposal President Obama is using a tactic described in behavioral finance as anchoring. Here’s a real life example from my married life. Let’s say I buy an expensive toy (usually a geeky one like an electronic gadget) for $300. My wife will ask me how much it is, and I’ll respond with $600. With a stunned look on her face, her reaction is typically “You paid $600 for this?” I then come back with, “What would you say if it was $300?”
Her answer is usually something like “Ok, that would be a good price,” and I’ll finally admit I lied and that it is $300. She’s not upset with me anymore and everyone wins. I anchored her at the higher price ($600) and then the lower ($300) now seems like a bargain.
Mr. President is doing the same thing. He asked in his healthcare bill a lot more than he knows he could possibly receive. So anytime he is giving up something, like insurance companies’ right to exist, he is “compromising” and republicans and taxpayers claim a small victory. This is important. The President knows he won’t receive everything he asked for. He knows that the public option (a government insurance competitor – an Oxymoron if ask me) was a “no go” from very beginning. And thus he’ll “compromise” it away with cooperatives.
As dust around the healthcare bill begins to settle, we are seeing hints that health insurance companies will not be euthanized and in the worst case, they may have to compete with cooperatives. Let me tell you this. As a guy who spent half of his life in Russia and has seen cooperatives, this is an antonym to competition. I have yet to meet a person who adores his HMO, but for-profit HMOs are a better evil and more importantly, more efficient than not-for-profit cooperatives. I am buying HMO stocks.
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