CNN Money reported this week that for the first time a decade, medical costs actually fell, meaning that payouts from insurance companies should drop.
You’d think this would mean some relief from steadily rising health insurance premiums, wouldn’t you?
According to another CNN article, Blue Shield of California was planning to increase premium payments as much as 59% for nearly 200,000 policyholders. The company had already raised premiums twice since October.
Officials claim it’s because of increasing health care and medical costs. Do you believe it? I don’t, given the amazing lengths the Blues (locally and nationally) — and most other insurance companies — will go to to avoid paying claims – prepayment review, additional development requests, denial on a technicality (I’ve literally seen a claim denied because a diagnosis code was missing a fifth digit), and, when they get too expensive, dropping members entirely.
CNN’s article stated, “Blue Shield said higher medical costs, greater use of medical care and a growing trend of healthier people dropping coverage during a bad economy, were the reasons for seeking the increases.” The article also stated, “… the decision to not raise members’ premiums this year will cost Blue Shield $35 million to $40 million in lost revenue.”
Of course, the CEO makes it sound like he’s doing the policyholders a favor: “By agreeing not to raise rates this year, we are helping to make coverage more affordable for our members during tough economic times,” said Blue Shield of California CEO Bruce Bodaken, in a statement. “It’s a financial risk for us, but a risk that’s worth taking.”
Mmmm-hmmmm. California Blue Shield makes $10 BILLION dollars profit overall per year. They spend millions of dollars on lobbyists and advertising to kill real healthcare reform, they can afford advertising to bring in more members; they can pay gigantic bonus and severance packages to executives. How much risk are they really taking with this “lost revenue”? What will they have to give up? The gold-plated faucets in the executive washroom? The elephant cutlets doused in leechee-and-diamond-dust-sorbet at the CEO’s annual board luncheon? A few private jets?
Looking into California Blue Shield a little further, I found that it was impossible to determine how much of the annual profit is eaten up by CEO Bruce Bodaken’s salary, because he won’t allow it to be released. What are you hiding, Brucie? Afraid your salary is not appropriate for a non-profit entity such as Blue Shield?
Ironically, Mr. Bodaken is a member of the New America Foundation’s Health CEOs for Health Reform. He proposed a “shared responsibility” policy. Of course he did; that will keep the customers just where he and others of his ilk want them: in his hand, where he can squeeze more money out of them.
Don’t believe the insurers; they do not have your interests at heart. They do not care about your health. They really only want your money. Wellpoint CEO Angela Braley (2009 compensation of $9,844,21, with a pay increase of 51% last year) bluntly said, at a business meeting, “We will not sacrifice profitability for membership.”
Of course they won’t.