Earlier this month we wrote a post about the despicable actions of Anthem Blue Cross in raising their rates for health coverage. See Healthcare Costs on the Rise. Why? The Los Angeles Times has been vigilant in their coverage of the healthcare giant, and two articles in the Feb. 23 Business Section hit the nail right on the head.
On page B1, in a story headlined “Anthem’s profit shifts scrutinized,” reporter Lisa Girion reports that while Anthem Blue Cross was raising rates supposedly to cover the cost of medical care, “other parts of Anthem reaped a profit … $525 million in Anthem’s earnings in 2009 was shipped to its corporate parent Wellpoint Inc.” And it has been so profitable that “since WellPoint acquired it in 2004, it has contributed more than $4.2 billion to the parent company’s bottom line.” Furthermore, Girion reports, “critics say some of those gains should have been kept in California and used to cover the losses on Anthem’s individual policies,” losses given as the reason they raised rates in California.
But some lawmakers say they are aghast. Former California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, now a Democratic congressman from Walnut Creek, said it was unconscionable for Anthem to impose steep premium hikes on individuals when the company as a whole was quite profitable.
“The extraordinary greed of Anthem/WellPoint Blue Cross is a clear indication that this company has put profit before people,” said Garamendi, who as California insurance commissioner presided over the companies’ merger. “People need to be able to get out of the shark pool with a public-option lifeboat.”
Anthem and WellPoint officials, including WellPoint president and CEO Angela F. Braly, are set to be grilled this week by committees of the state Legislature and U.S. Congress.
And on Page B8 of that paper, under a headline that reads “Anthem Blue Cross broke law more than 700 times,” reporter Duke Helfand reports that the insurer failed to pay medical claims on time and misrepresented policies from 2006 to 2009. And, according to California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, the firm faces up to $7 million in fines.
Once again, file this under greed.
I once asked a psychiatrist about people who run big corporations and who just don’t care about raising rates and fees, creating Kafkaesque rules and regulations, and basically “screwing” people (bankers, Toyota execs, take note). His reply: they’re sociopaths who have total disdain for most people and only care about the power they have over others.
Kind of makes your blood boil. Oops, can’t have that; it’s not covered by Blue Cross.