Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Anthem Blue Cross Receives Shame Award

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.

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.


Raymond Bouchayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.scott said...

So, with the 133,000 violations and 700 claims laws broken...what penalties has Anthem suffered? My guess is NONE!!!

Basically, Wellpoint/Anthem has the money and power/influence in Washington that allows them to arrogantly disregard such piddling little annoyances like the California State Insurance Commission, or Federal Law (in terms of their exemptions from the ADA).

So fine, they get the big raspberry from all of us...but they just go right ahead and continue their greedy ways unabated because they know that they can.

KM said...

Thanks for awarding Antham the GREEDY AWARD they are so well deserving of! Your article is perfectly put expressing how I feel being on Blue Cross Antham and having it be the second year in a row they have enforced across the board LARGE premium rate hikes. I don't even have coverage for preventative things like seasonal flu shots, or physicals, and pregnancy.

With the economy being so bad and so many people losing their jobs that is the time they should not raise rates especially after raising them last year for everyone in a bad economy. If many people who make so much less in their own jobs then their Antham CEO's and many of us have had to go without raises to help people prevent lay-offs why can't Antham cut back on their raises and profit? Especially when they are offering less coverage and reimbursement in such important recovery services like physical therapy.

They say people losing jobs and insurance is a reason why they are raising rates, but if people lose their jobs and have a HUGE rate increase that will force more people to drop their insurance. Antham's excuses and reasoning does not make sense.

Exactly like you so well described we are like hostages to them and they are well aware of it taking as EXTREME ADVANTAGE of it as possible.

KM said...

One night last week Antham called me with a rude automated recording to say I don't have to pay the 39% increase for March or April but will most likely have to pay in May. Then it started asking me if I changed to another insurance or if I stopped my coverage with them?
I thought I'm not going to answer an automated robot asking me this. So finally it said "SAY YES OR NO!!" like the automated robot lady was angry at me for not answering and I was a bad child she was losing patience with me. Last year at the same start of the year ANTHAM raised my ins. rate to $80 a month for premiums as well. Most jobs never give that much of a raise or often not any raise at all.

M.scott said...

Wellpoint's CEO, Angela Braly made $9,844,212 in 2008 (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/wellpoints-angela-braly-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14)

Nice to know someone can afford to pay insurance company's annual rate increases.

Toni Brayer, MD said...

M.scott: Amazing statistic! They certainly deserve the Shame award.

Jess said...

In the past month they have also officially cut reimbursement for physical therapy services in outpatient clinics to 75$/ case. Obviously the private clinics are boycotting and not accepting Blue Cross. Basically all Blue cross insured are without PT unless they go to one of several options at hospital based facilities. Tack one up wall of shame. Great Blog!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for shining a light on Anthem. I read that they intend to proceed with the rate hikes in May despite the criticism...why? Because they can!

Kellie said...


Latest update on Antham's excuses and justification of rate increase.

I was told by one of their agents my rate is higher then a friend of mine who is 2 years younger because in my area females go to see doctors more then males.

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