The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Exorbitant Health Insurance Premium Increases

by jhwygirl

You simply couldn’t even write this into a movie, unless it was some sort of sick comedy. No one would believe it.

Against the backdrop of a renewed call for health reform WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross, based in Indiana, and a provider of health insurance in 14 states with 34 million customers – 8 million of them in California alone – has announced significant rate increases across 8 states.

WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross earned $4.7 billion on $60 billion in sales last year.

The announced planned rate hikes as high as 39 percent in California and 34 percent in Indiana. Internal memos project an addition 7% profit in 2010 as a result of this newest rate increase.

What else do they show?:

WellPoint Inc.’s internal documents show the health insurer sought to raise rates in California to boost company profits and cover costs ballooned by executive salaries and corporate retreats, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman said.

Gutsy, huh?

Congress wasn’t too happy.

How much has WellPoint spend on lobbying?:

The largest spender among the insurance companies though was Wellpoint. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., the company spent about 4.7 million in 2009 on lobbying, 21 percent more than its K Street expenditures in 2008.

They also acquired a larger share of the California market (translate: decreased competition) by purchase of Blue Cross of California – by having its very own consumers pay for it in the form of higher premiums – and have continued, now, to increase profits at the cost of cutting services and raising rates. Not only that, they continue to siphon billions off of Blue Cross CA to other Anthem subsidiaries for “unspecified services.”

A White House report on Feb. 18 highlighted additional health premium increases last year in other places like Michigan, Connecticut and Maine that it said were five to 10 times higher than the growth rate in national health spending. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp. and Humana Inc., the top U.S. health plans, were trying to preserve executive pay and profits “way over anybody’s estimates.”

There’s a group out there working on 1,000,000 calls to congress between today and tomorrow. If you aren’t incline to do that, maybe take a couple of links in this article and send it Baucus’, Tester’s and Rehberg’s way. Let ’em know your watching.

I will say – sometimes it can be fun to get a staffer up on the phone. Especially Rehberg’s, because you know they love taking calls on health reform.

Do remember – Always be nice.

  1. problembear

    it is my considered opinion that these rate increases are calculated to drive us into passing weak health care reform now that drives more customers and more government money into their clutches….

    they fear what could happen in 2012 if singlepayer becomes more popular in the interim.

    they don’t fear the P.O.S. reform that obama is pushing however. it is blackmail to stampede the sheep into their pens.

  2. kirk t

    I have had health insurance with Aetna for the last 4 years. While the cost of health care has gone up a little over 10% during this time. My rates have gone up 90% for the same coverage. Aetna’s last letter to me says that due to rising heath care cost their rates needed to go up. The part they leave out is that they multiply it by 10.

    You might say switch… but from what I see they have all gone up by about the same amount. I think that this is a huge problem. These are unjustifiable rate increases and the companies seem to be moving in a monopolistic manner.

    Is this their way of preparing for the New Obama Plan? Are they trying to get the rates up before Obama locks down their rate?

  3. gag me

    obama just told me the government healthcare plan is going to work like walmart. Is that good or bad?

  4. spellcheck

    exorbitant: greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation

    is “exhorbiant” a word?

    Seriously? I found a bunch of uses of it on liberal blogs when I googled it, but it’s not in Websters New International Dictionary Unabridged, Second Edition. Is it a neologism?

    • There was a time when my spelling was perfect and my handwriting impeccable. Alas, both have gone to the memory of few.

      You know, I swear it came up in the spell check. If I misspell a word, I notice it. So blame it on Microsoft.

      As for “Websters”, I won’t touch it.

      • dick dictionary

        Love my Websters just for the art of the big book’s illustrations and definitions, both.

        I’ve got on-line OED too, which is fun for the “word of the day” and the olde english word uses. Oxford adds all the neologisms regularly, too.

  5. carfreestupidity

    Got a letter saying my premiums are going up by 45%. Maybe they found out I’m carfree and am on a bike in heavy traffic and are betting on me getting flattened?

    • 45%! That is absolutely insane! I assume you are buying on the market?

      Montana doesn’t have many choices. There is no competition. This is why a public option is so important.

      If companies like WellPoint (a Baucus buddy) and BCBS of MT are going to pull this crap right in the middle of the reform battle, I’d hope every Blue Dog Senator that was protecting these corporate criminal pirates realizes they’ve been made a fool and look at real meaningful reform.

      These health insurers are basically waving the Italian Victory Salute at the Senate. They have one sole purpose, and clearly, it has nothing to do with providing health care.

    • Please write Tester Baucus and even Rehberg and tell them this, CarFree. They need to know this.

      In my calls to each of them on Thursday, I told them that I had hear this and that there would be impending news stories as the media got word…

      aww hell, I’m off to write a post.


    They need to enact more legislation and put forth ore rate banding requirments. ost states are still set up with the community rating system so in effect most of us are paying the bill for somebody else.

  1. 1 The Indy: Montana Health Insurance Costs Soar « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] I wrote here just the other day of what many view as the galling move by WellPoint to increase health insurance rates of 34 million people across 8 states. […]

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