A few sentences in a Wall Street Journal story Tuesday, on Wellpoint/Blue Cross insurance increases, made my eyes pop. If you take the words at face value, we’re heading for a future in which a few very rich sick people will pay $10,000 a month for health insurance and the rest of us can just beg for bandages on the street.
The story is about Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly’s defense of 39% premium increases this year for individual insurance policies. Investors, says the story, are happy she isn’t backing down:
Investors said they are relieved that the company is standing by the
increases. Without them, Ms. Braly argues, the company can’t break even
in the risky business of selling insurance to individuals, which has
become more difficult as the economy has caused healthier people to
forgo buying the policies.
We can all see where this ends, can’t we? Even Daddy Warbucks, Orphan Annie’s protector, would have to scrape for the monthly payment. It’s one more reason for fence-sitters in Congress (Doesn’t that rail-sitting hurt after a while?) to climb down and vote for a health reform bill. It’s either that or let "investors" decide whether we’ll have health insurance or not.