Posts Tagged - ‘Anthem’

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Sebelius Puts More Heat On WellPoint’s Health Insurance

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Image: Listphile

Recently, WellPoint has been one of the most controversial health insurance companies. Their rate increases and alleged dumping of policyholders with breast cancer have received much criticism.

Although they have taken some steps to repair their reputation, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wants more. She is urging state insurance departments and governors to further examine the insurer’s proposed rate increases. In addition, she wants governors to make sure that states have the authority to review and approve health insurance plan rate changes.

Their increases in California gained the most attention, and the up to 39% price hikes have been blamed on an accounting error. Sebelius wants other states to check for similar errors.

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Health Insurance Executives Fire Back

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Health Insurance Executives are speaking up after weeks of being scrutinized by high ranking officials. Congress has been raising concerns about Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield specifically for their expected premium increase–that could affect thousand of people with health insurance.

The executive, Angela F. Braly, president of WellPoint, defended the insurance company’s move saying soaring medical costs is the only reason they are planning rate increases. She went on to warn that capping health insurance companies premium increases would further complicate the health insurance system.

Anthem Blue Cross, a unit of WellPoint, recently announced many of its customers would have to pay an average increase of 25 percent, with some rates going up as much as 39 percent. The company postponed the rate increase after it garnered bad media attention and criticism.

High ranking officials including President Obama negatively responded to the Anthem’s expected move. Citing their billion dollar profits as an example of the problem with the healthcare system. Obama and other officials said it was a clear example of why legislation needed to be passed.

The increases in premiums are driven by prices charged by doctors, hospitals, drug companies and other suppliers, and by increases in the use of health care by an aging population, Ms. Braly said.

“For 2010,” Ms. Braly said, “we expect hospital inpatient and outpatient costs in California to grow by over 10 percent, driven primarily by hospital reimbursement rates. Additionally, we expect pharmacy costs in California to grow by over 13 percent.”

The President is slated to hold a meeting with Republicans and Democrats to discuss ideas on making personal health insurance more affordable..

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Health Insurers Under Fire

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Health insurers are in the spotlight for hitting some of its policyholders with high insurance premiums. The Department of Health and Human Services is criticizing health insurers calling the hike “massive increases”.

One company garnering a lot of attention is Anthem Blue Cross of California who recently postponed its slated premium increase due to the criticism from high ranking officials. However, Anthem’s planned rate hike, which the state estimates would affect about 700,000 customers, averaged 25 percent and would have been as high as 39 percent for some. This would become quite a financial burden for many policy holders.

Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a press conference to highlight a department report showing double-digit percentage increases in health insurance premiums in California, Michigan, Connecticut, Oregon and Maine. She is asking the company to be open about how they are spending money from health insurance plans.

“Unfortunately, this is pretty widespread,” Sebelius said of the dramatic rate increases. “What we’d like is transparency for every company in every state of the country.”

President Obama is considering a number of provisions in his health care bill that would put a cap on the amount of money people will pay out of pocket for medical costs. Under Obama’s plan health insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna would have to make more information available about how they are using the money from premiums. Mr. Obama says more affordable health insurance can only be achieved by more restrictions on powerful health insurance companies.

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