Blue Shield CEO Pushes An HMO’s Dream Plan: Universal Health Care Without Cost Controls
SAN FRANCISCO. The brewing debate over the state’s ailing health care system has brought a new voice into the fray. Bruce Bodaken, CEO of Blue Shield of California, announced a plan to provide health insurance for all Californians last night at the Commonwealth Club. The Bodaken proposal would mandate that employers provide health care to workers, enroll all eligible patients in public programs, and develop a minimum benefits package. Health care advocates lauded Bodaken’s initiative but were critical of the plan because insurers would be guaranteed new customers but would not be subjected to cost controls.
“Maybe with the help of Bodaken and health care stakeholders we can implement a universal health care system. But that system will be unworkable unless we control insurer costs and mandate efficiency,” said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. “Health insurance companies would similarly embrace a plan that would guarantee them purchasers. Experience has shown that health insurers have no qualms with charging double digit premium increases and spending 40% of every premium dollar on overhead and advertising.”
A new report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) found that out-of-pocket health care costs have increase 27% over 2001 levels for some employees. 53% of employers responding to the survey thought that rising health care costs are their “greatest cost concern.”