Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Explain Yourself

The Obama administration would like Anthem Blue Cross of California to explain why they’re hiking their insurance rates by 39%.

“Additionally, you should make public information on the percent of your individual market premiums that is used for medical care versus the percent that is used for administrative costs,” [Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen] Sebelius wrote, noting that the profits of Anthem Blue Cross’s parent company, WellPoint Incorporated, have soared.

The company earned $2.7 billion in just the last quarter of 2009. Quarterly sales went from $15.1 billion to $19 billion — a 26% rise.

In a reply, Anthem Blue Cross is making the pitch that it’s not their fault:

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.

They also say that they want healthcare reform “done right,” which is a GOP talking point. That’s not really a surprise; what are the odds that Wellpoint has contributed to the anti-healthcare reform campaign?