California Blue Cross Hikes Premiums by 39%02.10.10
Anthem Blue Cross – California’s largest for-profit health insurance company – just sent notice to some 800,000 customers who purchase individual health plans that their premiums will be increasing by as much as 39% on March 1st. That’s over 15 times the inflation rate. They also told subscribers that they will be adjusting rates more frequently, perhaps many times a year.
Insurers are free to cherry-pick the healthiest customers in the lightly regulated individual market. They can raise rates at any time as long as they notify the state Department of Insurance and prove that they are spending at least 70% of premiums on medical care.
The reason for these drastic hikes? According to the company:
“Unfortunately, the individual market premiums are merely the symptoms of a larger underlying problem in California’s individual market — rising healthcare costs.”
The company just blames that amorphous entity: healthcare costs. I would like to see just how much those costs are to the company, actually. I highly doubt that they have risen anywhere even remotely close to the 39% hike that premiums will take. Did doctors just start charging 39% more per office visit? Did X-ray technology all of a sudden cost hundreds more per scan? Are nurses making as much as their doctor counterparts now? That sure would be news, wouldn’t it? I feel like I would’ve read about that if it had happened.
Adding insult to injury, it was reported that Anthem Blue Cross’s parent company, WellPoint Inc., earned 2.7 billion dollars in the last quarter of 2009 alone, its CEO took home $10 million just in salary, and the company “spent nearly $9.5 million on lobbying against health reforms in 2009.”
I just don’t understand why people are so adamant about keeping health insurance a for-profit industry. Their job is not to insure us and provide us care when we get sick or injured; their job is to make money. And they don’t make money when they spend money on cancer treatments, insulin shots for diabetics, or pain medication for people with migraines. Their stockholders don’t profit when the company dolls out money for your health care. They are in the business of not providing care.
How many people were denied coverage so that Anthem CEO (and soon-to-be WellPoint chairperson and member of the board of directors) Angela Braly could earn her $10 million payday?
Why is it so un-American to not want people profiting off my health problems?