Anthem Blue Cross, owned by fabulously wealthy Angela Braly's mega-profit WellPoint corporation, is trying to push more Maine residents into poverty with insane rate increases, but the good news is that Anthem, like California's Blue Shield, seems to have finally realized the logic behind single payer. The Portland Press Herald has the revealing, but at the same time terrifying, story.
You see, Anthem's Spokesman Christopher Dugan (their unconverted Wendell Potter) is arguing that premiums for the individual market could be kept much lower if only Anthem put everyone in a single pool of policyholders as compared to dividing everyone up into the most profitable arrangement possible.
More below the fold on WellPoint's support for single payer -- and the pain and impoverishment that this company, which once sued Maine to increase its profits, is causing.
According to Spokesman Chris, the only thing that is keeping WellPoint from lowering premiums for all in Maine is its desire to keep things "fair" for its highly-profitable group plans (you see, it's much easier to extort a large corporation or school district paying health insurance premiums than it is a single individual already driven into poverty by the need to have health care to stay alive.) He argues in support of single payer:
"The thought that there is somehow a profit derived from this is not correct," he said.
Dugan said Anthem does not use profits from its other insurance businesses to keep individual premiums down because that wouldn't be fair to policyholders in other markets, such as group plans.
Dugan, your spin is Deadly Spin indeed. How dare you insult hard-working Mainers by suggesting WellPoint is suffering and not deriving a profit?! Your CEO just had a 50 percent increase in her salary! But, if only those selfish creeps on individual plans would stop going to the doctor so much, she could have had a 60 percent increase.
And, WellPoint isn't only supporting single payer by virtue of its arguing for the logic of a single pool of insured individuals, it is also supporting single payer by raising rates so high that there is no other sustainable alternative than the government taking over for the profiteers.
It's not so-called ObamaCare that's killing jobs, WellPoint is the "job killing health plan." Just ask campground owner Mike Stella:
The time is coming when he will no longer be able to hold onto his campground business or keep his health insurance, Mike Stella said Tuesday.
"All of my salary and part of my wife's goes to health insurance," Stella said. "Another rate increase is probably going to put us over the top."
Stella was among more than 20 people who spoke against proposed health insurance rate increases during a public comment session Tuesday evening at the University of Southern Maine's Gorham campus.
So, Mr. Boehner, how many people at Mr. Stella's campground are going to lose their jobs all so Angela Braly and crew can keep their bloated WellPoint salaries?
This is absolute insanity -- are there no other businesses in Maine (and the country) that matter besides Anthem? How many parents can't take their kids to the beach because all of their money is going to WellPoint? How many individuals can't afford to have a nice dinner or movie out now and then because all of their money is going to WellPoint? How many homeowners can't spend any money at Home Depot or Lowe's rebuilding their decks because -- say it with me -- all of their money is going to WellPoint?
Let's be clear about this entire debacle: insurance companies are businesses -- they are not non-profit entities devoted to improving the health of their members. They are solely devoted to acting as "middle men" for patients and doctors, all the while -- as Anthony Weiner likes to say -- "taking a little piece of the action" every time that you need to see a doctor. It is their fiduciary responsibility -- they are legally required -- to make as much money as possible for their shareholders. No where does the law say they have to keep us as healthy as possible. Remember, again, that WellPoint sued Maine to increase its profit margin?
If Angela Braly truly cared about the health of her serfs (errrr....members), she would not construct enormous, profit-generating barriers to their accessing immediate preventive care -- a Great Wall of China-sized barrier like a $30,000 family deductible:
John Costin, a business owner from Kennebunk, said the premiums to cover him, his wife and two children will go from $580 a month to $624 under Anthem's proposal. The policy has a family deductible of $30,000, which means they can spend that much before the coverage takes effect.
Imagine that: $30,000 deductible! No wonder Angela Braly fights so hard against real reform -- like single payer. Unless a member of this family gets cancer, she's keeping all of their premium dollars each and every year. Of course, the likelihood that cancer will be detected in that family is close to zero, because they are probably highly hesitant to visit the doctor or seek out lab tests when they know they have to spend $30,000 of their own money before Anthem will help with even one freaking cent.
Do they have enough "skin in the game" for you yet, Angela? How much skin is enough before you'll help them with their bills? $30,000? $40,000? $50,000? $100,000?!
Keep this crap up, WellPoint -- PLEASE. You'll bring on single payer even faster, because people are pissed:
George Clark of Portland said he and his wife spend $723 a month for their insurance and have a $10,000 deductible. Their premiums and medical bills "ended up accounting for about 40 percent of our combined income last year," he said.
The proposal could add about $70 a month to the premium. "We will once again have to worry about every doctor visit, every test, every medical procedure," he said.
"This is not right," said Libbet Cone, a social worker who pays $450 a month and has a $5,000 deductible. "I'm angry with Anthem, and I'm also angry with the commission for not ... containing the insurance industry in this state."
And, you know what, Tea Partiers, these people are damn well already rationing their care -- thanks to corporate greed. The businessman with a $30,000 deductible (note, I just edited this from 300,000 due to a typo - hopefully that was not the gods telling me what Angela Braly has in store for next year) says:
"We ration our health care. We do whatever we need to for the kids. My wife and I delay trips to the doctor. We don't fill prescriptions," he said. "Does Anthem need the increases to cover their costs? No, they would just like to make more profits for their executives and shareholders."
God forbid those parents delay seeking help for something that will kill them -- Braly and WellPoint will indeed have blood on their hands. That is not hyperbole.
With a Tea Partying Governor, Maine is not likely to have real reform anytime soon, but Vermont, Connecticut and California may -- if we, as a nation, support those reforms.
Once the dominoes start falling, like they did in Canada, single payer will become a national reform. Good quality care for all -- WellPoint and Angela Braly not invited.
People are dying -- WE CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS FIGHT. THE FIGHT HAS ALREADY BEGUN.