This Is Obscene

A surgical team from Wilford Hall Medical Cent...
Only if you can afford it...Image via Wikipedia

How about an overnight 39 percent rise in your rent? Car payments?

No, just your health insurance:

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, sharply criticized Anthem Blue Cross of California on Tuesday over its plans to raise health insurance premiums by as much as 39 percent, and she said that the move provided a vivid example of why major health care legislation is needed.

“It is unconscionable that Anthem Blue Cross would consider increasing health insurance premiums for Californians by as much as 39 percent, especially at a time when so many people are experiencing economic hardship,” Ms. Feinstein said in a statement. “I can think of no better example of why we need health insurance reform, and this kind of behavior is a stark reminder of why any reform plan should establish a rate authority to keep insurance rates affordable.”

Full New York Times story here.

From Truthout:

In a statement Monday, Anthem Blue Cross said the planned rate hike was due to the “weak economy” and called on lawmakers to “go back to the beginning and get health care reform done right.”

“… As medical costs increase across our member population, premium increases to the entire membership pool result. Unfortunately, in the weak economy many people who do not have health conditions are foregoing buying insurance. This leaves fewer people, often with significantly greater medical needs, in the insured pool. We regret the impact this has on our members. It highlights, why we need sustainable health care reform to manage the steadily rising costs of hospitals, drugs and doctors.”

So people are really sick and desperate will pay more for their health insurance — with, of course, a concomitant 39 percent increase in their paychecks or maybe a 39 percent rate reduction from their car insurance or rent — and the rest of the poor suckers who can’t even afford to buy insurance anymore will simply go without.

6 thoughts on “This Is Obscene

  1. republicanblack

    The biggest problem in this health debate is education. We the people of the united states have failed when it comes to civics and history. I myself, a republican, was all worried about mandates and unconstitutionality of the health care bill, and I was TOTALLY wrong. here is the proof,

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    Thanks for weighing in. I would argue there are multiple factors at work: the primacy (polite word for stranglehold) of the free-market system over an essential human need, access to quality care.

    A fundamental shift in how Americans work keeps being ignored or overlooked — or shouted down by those who feel their own interests are threatened by change: one third of Americans do not “have a job” and therefore cannot get benefits from their workplace. They must buy them on the open market and are forbidden from buying across state lines; it is much more costly, for example, in New York (where mammograms are mandated, a good thing in my selfish view) than in many other states.

    Self-interest makes change almost unmanageable.

  3. Facebook User

    What’s obscene is Wellpoint’s influence on the senate.

    Max Baucus hired Wellpoint VP Liz Fowler to write that 2,600 page bill we’re all suspicious of.

    Evan Bayh’s wife is on the board of Wellpoint. She was appointed after his election with no previous board experience. They’ve paid her over $2,000,000 since.

    Wellpoint threw the blue dogs to the wolves when they raised rates by 39% — a week after profits rose 727%. Let’s see if we can get those wolves to turn on their corporate master.

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    FacebookUser, thanks for this. Do you think they will ever turn on them? What, if anything, would it take for elected officials to do the right thing for the uninsured and not pander to corporate interests? The profits being reported are almost unimaginable — certainly in relation to something as fundamental as a healthy population (of voters), often fearing bankruptcy from one medical disaster.

    1. Ty Hilkert

      It’s an optimistic longshot they’d turn on Wellpoint, but worth a try. Defending Wellpoint just isn’t possible after a 39% rate increase one week after 727% profits. No politician could do that. They’ll have to attack Wellpoint somehow, and that will force them to explain the inconsistency between their attack on Wellpoint and their association with it.

      They either turn on Wellpoint or they look ridiculous, exploited, and contemptible for talking out of both sides of their mouth. Proves the point that insurance companies are a too-powerful corrupting influence, either way, and demonstrates the need for single payer.

  5. Caitlin Kelly

    I wonder if a 39% increase with only, say, 100% or 200% profits would be sufficiently egregious. I wish the two issues were not conflated — as a 39% increase is insane, no matter what the economy is doing. You suck it up like every other industry. But then, they don’t have to.

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