Health Care

Shame on Anthem Blue Cross for Rate Hikes and State Law Violations

| by Toni Brayer MD

EverythingHealth feels justified in awarding this weeks Hall of Corporate Shame Award to California Anthem Blue Cross. California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said Anthem Blue Cross "violated state law more than 700 times over a three-year period by failing to pay medical claims on time and repeatedly failed to respond to state regulators as they investigated complaints over the last year". They uncovered 133,000 violations of state law over payments for medical care.

In addition, Anthem Blue Cross raised rates on their private paying customers a shocking 39%, stating the recession and people losing coverage made it happen. They said the shifting demographics took a big bite out of their profits.

Hmmm...somehow Anthem's parent company, Wellpoint outpaced inflation 10 to one and posted $2.7 billion profit in the last quarter of 2009 alone!

Anthem is the largest for-profit insurer in California. The rate hikes would affect many of the 800,000 individual policy holders in California who are held hostage for insurance coverage by Blue Cross. Finding other affordable coverage is impossible if a patient filed any claim at all...even for a minor condition like migraine headache or conjunctivitis.

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The Obama administration has postponed the rate hike by two months. Insurers are free to set their rates at any level they like as long as they spend 70% on claims.

Congratulations, Anthem Blue Cross. Your egregious and greedy behavior goes far beyond the open market.