Anthem Blue Cross just sent out the warmest, fuzziest letter to policyholders, touting the generous, caring steps it is taking since the health reform bill passed. It made me gag. The first thing the letter brags about–that Blue Cross won’t cancel your policy when you get sick–is what it is being forced to do after ruining the lives of seriously ill people for decades.
Before the reforms passed, Blue Cross refused to put any restrictions on its odious practice of rescinding coverage of anyone who (a) cost them money and (b) made any minor or inadvertent error on an insurance application. Now, with a federal gun to its head, Anthem Blue Cross is patting itself on the back for obeying the law.
It also brags that it is obeying the law early by immediately covering the children on their parents’ policy until age 27, and trolls for new business by describing the new federal tax credit for small businesses to defray employee health insurance.
But it’s the "we won’t rescind you any more" part that’s so infuriating.
The letter is just more evidence that insurers will do everything within their lobbying power to weaken new regulations under the law, as they are doing with endless letters and arguments to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners about how the law will be an impossible burden and drive insurers out of markets. Then, no matter how it comes out, insurers will send you more letters about how much they care and plan to protect you.
That is, when they’re not sending notice of a 30% premium increase.
Insurance companies are not in business to make you suffer their bureaucracy of denial and delay–they’re in business to make as much profit as possible. It’s just collateral damage when cancer patients lose their coverage and insured families lose their homes because of unpaid medical bills. Without tough regulation, insurers are as rogue as any Wall Street hedge fund.
So when insurance companies whine about the burden of regulation, remember what they’re really after. And when they try to take credit for ceasing their wrongdoing, it’s entirely proper to gag.