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Blue Shield fucks the public yet again, with rate hikes up to 20%


By Patrick   Follow   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 3:07am PST   3,349 views   63 comments
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http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/13/business/la-fi-blue-shield-rates-20121213

And this is while Blue Shield of California is sitting on $3.9 billion in cash that it doesn't know what to do with.

And the growth in that mongo cash pile has also outpaced the company's 19% extortionistic growth in annual revenue since 2006. Not bad for a supposedly "non-profit" company!

This is why the California Insurance Commissioner needs the ability to approve or deny medical insurers' rate hikes, the same way it is with car insurance already.

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CBOEtrader   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 3:16am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 1

We need competition and a market pricing mechanism, not more government.

Homeboy   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 3:49am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 2

CBOEtrader says

We need competition and a market pricing mechanism, not more government.

The government was not controlling the market for the last 10 years, and the rate hikes were even WORSE than they are now. Your opinion just isn't founded in reality.

Patrick   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 4:28am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (5)   Dislike     Comment 3

CBOEtrader says

We need competition and a market pricing mechanism, not more government.

But you forget that for competition and a market pricing mechanism, we need government to force the oligopolies to actually provide a real market.

For a market to exist, at least two conditions must be met:

1. Prices have to be available so that customers can compare options.
2. Customers need the ability to walk away from unreasonable prices.

Neither of those two conditions exists right now in America. Prices for treatment are not available without perserverance and some pretty intense arm-twisting. There is never any menu of prices available to the public by procedure code, even though every medical establishment necessarily does have such a list. They just insist on hiding the list to prevent a market from forming.

Walking away is also not an option for emergency or essential medical care. If you walk away, you die. Assuming you can even walk.

So what we have now is pretty pure extortion. The government can do two easy things to fix this:

1. Require that all medical establishments make available all their prices in advance of treatment, to create a real market pricing mechanism for non-emergency care.

2. Regulate prices for emergency treatment, where there can be no free market because no one is free to walk away.

Lack of government involvement is a 100% guarantee you will continue to be blindfolded and ass-raped by insurance companies and medical administrators. I give the actual doctors a pass because they are not where most of the money is going.

If you insist that government is always the problem, then you yourself are the problem. Goverment is the only counterweight that we have against corporate dick-tatorship.

Quigley   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 6:30am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 4

I agree with Patrick. The medical market is unique in that it's an essential service that we have decided must be provided to those in extremity, whether or not they can pay. Since that decision to not let people die on ER floors is made, we have a responsibility to fix the repercussions and Unintended consequences, of which there are many. We have an unholy arrangement at work right now, a system of medical compensation and insurance that is so complex and arcane that it requires a special sort of bookkeeper to even keep things straight.

One thing that may mitigate costs: this new law says that 80% (or 85%) of insurance premiums have to go to medical treatment costs, with extra money being refunded to those paying the premiums. That should help a little, I think, unless there is yet another Unintended consequence!

Patrick   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 6:45am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 5

BTW, this is all still valid:

http://patrick.net/?p=602077

Our premiums are now off my old chart, at $857/month for pretty much no benefits because we have an $8K deductible:

121212   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 7:14am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike (1)     Comment 6

Fuckers.

"We don't need a single payer healthcare system!!!" That's communism, RIGHT!!!!!!

Patrick   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 7:18am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 7

Quigley says

One thing that may mitigate costs: this new law says that 80% (or 85%) of insurance premiums have to go to medical treatment costs, with extra money being refunded to those paying the premiums. That should help a little, I think, unless there is yet another Unintended consequence!

Unintended consequence is already here: insurance companies now have a very strong incentive to pay out more for all kinds of medical treatment, so that their 20% of premiums is 20% of a bigger number.

Of course that was probably an intended consequence all along, put into the law by some smirking lobbyist. Note that Obamacare also fails to include any mechanism for limiting premium increases, which is essential for this scam to work.

We already spend more than twice as much per person for medical care in the US than any other country, and for worse medical outcomes than even Cuba. Where will it end? When everyone pays 100% of all income for medical insurance?

Quigley   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 7:43am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 8

Ouch Patrick, you actually pay that much for that little? My employer puts 1k/month into a benefit trust that buys a plan for me and my deductible is $3. That hasn't changed for ten years, and adding 3 kids and a wife to my plan. I'm lucky, yes, union job and all, but it seems that going it individually is a total rip off! Group plans must be far far cheaper and better.

Patrick   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 7:53am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 9

The problem for me is that the system is stacked against the individual, because employers like it that way, and because they have enough money to buy our so-called representatives in DC.

Employers really really want you to be afraid to go out on your own, so that you remain an obediant servant of your boss -- and so that you don't compete with them!

This is why the US Chamber of Commerce, which is the lobbying group representing employers, is always implacably opposed to any kind of universal health insurance independent of employers.

Kevin   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 8:17am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 10

My employer moved from Blue Shield of CA to Anthem Blue Shield because of this rate hike. I can't believe so many people still use them.

My plan costs $23,000 a year. I pay $2300 (about $190/month), my employer pays the rest. The coverage is pretty amazing. The deductible is tiny. We paid maybe $100 out of pocket for my daughter's birth (and then $20 total for a vasectomy to make sure we don't have any more!)

Despite my awesome insurance and awesome employer, I'm fully in favor of single payer health care. The current system is completely unfair to companies that operate in a low wage, high head count industries, to small employers, and to people who are self employed.

Not all employers have an adversarial relationship with their employees, by the way. It's pretty much just the wal-marts and the like of the world.

Patrick   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 8:21am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 11

Kevin says

Not all employers have an adversarial relationship with their employees, by the way. It's pretty much just the wal-marts and the like of the world.

True, but it's the Wal-Marts and other mega-corporations that control the US Chamber of Commerce, which opposes single-payer health care.

Meccos   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 9:26am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 12

This is likely in preparations for obamacare. 2113 & 2114 is when the aca fully kicks in, which is when insurance companies are going to take large losses... less compensation for increased patient care. That's a formula for lost profits or even losses. Cost will have to be passed onto someone else...

rooemoore   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 9:56am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 13

Meccos says

2113 & 2114 is when the aca fully kicks in, which is when insurance companies are going to take large losses...

wanna bet?

Meccos   Fri, 28 Dec 2012, 1:48pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 14

rooemoore says

Meccos says

2113 & 2114 is when the aca fully kicks in, which is when insurance companies are going to take large losses...

wanna bet?

You don't think that these companies are going to take large decreases in their earnings with the aca? What do you know that others don't?

jeankay   Sun, 30 Dec 2012, 1:39am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 15

PEOPLE WE NEED TO CALL THE CALIF DEPT OF INS THE OMBUDSMAN'S OFFICE, THIS RATE HIKE IS ON HER TABLE TO BE APPROVED...E- MAIL OMBUDSMAN@INSURANCE.CA.ORG
MS. CANDACE AMUNDSON IS THE PUBLIC SERVANT... LETS MASS E - MAIL HER AND CALL HER OFFICE AT 916-492-3604 OR MELANIE SMITH -CONSUMER AFFAIRS 916-492-3410 OR REBECCA BALL 916-492-3623.....STOP BITCHIN AND GET CRAKIN...... JK

Patrick   Sun, 30 Dec 2012, 1:46am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 16

Thanks, I will mail the Ombudsman, but because of our corrupt campaign finance system, there is no one in California with the legal right to limit extortion by the insurance oligopoly AFAIK. There is no market for health insurance, just a few insurers busy raising rates in lock step.

What it comes down to is that the insurance companies make big campaign "donations" to state Congressmen in exchange for the complete freedom to rape the public.

Your premium dollars are used to pay bribes to guarantee that your premiums can legally continue to rise at 10x the general inflation rate.

It may take a literal repeat of the American Revolution to stop corporate taxation of the public without representation.

B.A.C.A.H.   Sun, 30 Dec 2012, 2:56am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 17

Unfortunately Patrick, I am sorry to say that I think we hafta have a "job" to get group insurance through employment. I wish it wasn't so, but that's how it is. At least until it sinks in to our Red-State Cousins how bad things are for them down there in the Stroke Belt, to have their congressional representatives go for universal medicare.

Under the present paradigm, for many households this means a "job" for one of the two spouses who can buy coverage for all of the dependents. In "blue" places like the Bay Area this can also mean "domestic partners" which means more households.

(I constantly notice how many tough-talkin' "free-market-libertarian-entrepreneurial-types" quietly enjoy the healthcare benefits and other perks paid for by the Largesse of The California Taxpayer by having a spouse who is employed as a schoolteacher or in some other Civil Service job.)

Kevin   Mon, 31 Dec 2012, 10:28am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 18

There are lots of options for group-rate insurance without going through an employer:

- Professional societies
- Self-employment co ops
- Non-professional societies like AARP and MENSA

I'm somewhat optimistic about the exchanges under obamacare, but we'll see.

A smart democrat in 2016 should run on "medicare for all". Democrats have already lost the health care vote anyway, so what else would they have to lose?

David Losh   Mon, 31 Dec 2012, 1:58pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 19

Meccos says

which is when insurance companies are going to take large losses

Now you are just being ridiculous. Insurance Companies go out of business before they take losses, then move onto the next scam.

David Losh   Mon, 31 Dec 2012, 1:59pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 20

Meccos says

You don't think that these companies are going to take large decreases in their earnings with the aca? What do you know that others don't?

We all know you are talking about Health Insurance Companies, which have nothing to do with Health Care.

Meccos   Mon, 31 Dec 2012, 2:54pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 21

David Losh says

Meccos says

which is when insurance companies are going to take large losses

Now you are just being ridiculous. Insurance Companies go out of business before they take losses, then move onto the next scam.

ok so who is being ridiculous now? So going out of business is not so bad eh?

http://ssbenefits.net/Ins.Co.Out%20of%20Business.pdf

Meccos   Mon, 31 Dec 2012, 2:55pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 22

David Losh says

We all know you are talking about Health Insurance Companies, which have nothing to do with Health Care.

OK HEALTH insurance companies have nothing to do with HEALTH care.
Lets assume that is the case, why are you even making arguments about health insurance companies then?

David Losh   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 1:35am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 23

Meccos says

So going out of business is not so bad eh?

It's not if you have collected all you can out of the system.

Insurance companies go out of business for a lot of reasons then sell off the client list.

David Losh   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 1:42am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 24

Meccos says

why are you even making arguments about health insurance companies then?

We have a pathetic system of managing the premium pool that goes to paying salaries, sets up the very death panels conservatives fear, and lower the availability of Health Care.

The argument for Health Insurance is that it increases the quality of Health Care services, but that all depends on the Insurance coverage you have.

The trick of any corporation is to pay higher salaries to attract those people who can find the most money, for the share holders.

So Health Insurance points to it's low profits, but the stock prices tell a different story.

Meccos   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 1:48am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 25

David Losh says

Meccos says

So going out of business is not so bad eh?

It's not if you have collected all you can out of the system.

Insurance companies go out of business for a lot of reasons then sell off the client list.

The fact that so many go out of business really doesnt help your argument does it?

Meccos   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 1:56am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 26

David Losh says

We have a pathetic system of managing the premium pool that goes to paying salaries, sets up the very death panels conservatives fear, and lower the availability of Health Care.

Lets thank the ACA for making this worse...

David Losh says

The argument for Health Insurance is that it increases the quality of Health Care services, but that all depends on the Insurance coverage you have.

Yes, you are right. Not everyone has the same coverage. Just like some people have better auto insurance plans.... and your point is???

David Losh says

The trick of any corporation is to pay higher salaries to attract those people who can find the most money, for the share holders.

So Health Insurance points to it's low profits, but the stock prices tell a different story.

Many health plans are non-profit... there are no share holders.

David Losh   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 1:59am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 27

Meccos says

The fact that so many go out of business really doesnt help your argument does it?

It fits perfectly into why we need to get health care out of the insurance industry.

The prize in the insurance industry are the salaries, and stock prices, and if the company can be absorbed into a larger Insurance Company premium pool.

Health Insurance is all about the money.

Meccos   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 2:17am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 28

David Losh says

Meccos says

The fact that so many go out of business really doesnt help your argument does it?

It fits perfectly into why we need to get health care out of the insurance industry.

The prize in the insurance industry are the salaries, and stock prices, and if the company can be absorbed into a larger Insurance Company premium pool.

Health Insurance is all about the money.

You can simply pay out of pocket and that will solve your problems...

David Losh   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 2:43am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 29

Meccos says

Just like some people have better auto insurance plans.... and your point is???

I love the comparison to auto insurance, or non profit, versus stock holder accountability.

Number one the auto industry is a for profit entity heavily subsidized by the government, in terms of product safety. The human body is different, and no premium pool can determine by it's payers where they will pay the most. That's how AIDs lost insurance companies billions of dollars.

That also makes health care a matter of our national concern. Health Care needs to be cohesive. We need to dedicate all resources to finding cures for things like cancer.

Health Insurance is just another stumbling block in concerting efforts to being curative. Where is the incentive for an Insurance Company to be on the cutting edge of research? They leave that to others, which is another cog in the wheel.

Research, for profit, and profit alone, is a slow process that concentrates resources where it will get the highest returns. Billions are wasted by duplication.

Health Insurance has no incentive to make Health Care more affordable, to broaden the base, or even provide a higher quality of care, except by what will be the most cost effective selling point to the consumer.

A hospital can look really good, but that has little to do with the care you would get.

The auto industry, and it's insurance are heavily regulated, and I think those who work on the human body should be held to a much higher standard.

The Insurance Industry is obstructing our ability to access health care, by price. We need to lower the price for health care. We can do that by dedicating more resources, premiums, directly to care.

David Losh   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 2:49am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 30

Meccos says

You can simply pay out of pocket and that will solve your problems...

Sure if you can make the same payments the insurance company gets, otherwise you pay full retail.

Each cog in the Health Insurance wheel is another racket. This is what makes it so sick (pun intended). The Clinic, or hospital has a number they want to hit, so they bargain for every dollar.

Some comes from private pay, some from insurance, a lot from the government, and what ever donations they can take in, which is another sales tool.

The government pays a rate, each health insurance company has a rate, and the poor dumb private pay, pays double.

We need to get the insurance companies out of the equation because under the current system, both private pay, and the government are subsidizing the insurance industry.

Bap33   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 3:08am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 31

instead of gaurenteed payment to the Medical Complex, I suggest all forms of welfare be removed from all areas of the Medical Complex. Then, I suggest all forms of Medical insurance be outlaws, forcing the Medical Complex to charge a fee for service that can be afforded by their customers.

The welfare system that gaurentees payment removes all market forces and screws the middle class person that plays by the rules and got a job w/insurance. The prices are pulled from someones ass and there is no competition.

Next, school teachers union is ended. Then, California may get some good teachers paid well, and poor teachers sent packing.

Patrick   Tue, 1 Jan 2013, 3:54am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 32

David Losh says

The government pays a rate, each health insurance company has a rate, and the poor dumb private pay, pays double.

That poor dumb private guy would be me.

Meccos   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 9:31am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 33

David Losh says

Where is the incentive for an Insurance Company to be on the cutting edge of research?

Why do you feel insurance companies need to be on the cutting edge of research? They have no business being in research, nor should they. There are many other avenues for research and the insurance industry is one avenue that does not need to be in it.

David Losh says

Research, for profit, and profit alone, is a slow process that concentrates resources where it will get the highest returns.

There is nothing wrong with research for the sake of profit. Just like in any other industry, I would argue that this yields many helpful discoveries. Money is a good incentive to produce...

David Losh says

Health Insurance has no incentive to make Health Care more affordable, to broaden the base, or even provide a higher quality of care, except by what will be the most cost effective selling point to the consumer.

Free market competition does motivate companies to make things more affordable, broaden the base and increase quality of care. Companies only stop caring when free market competition is taken away. You realize that medical insurance companies are always trying to earn "quality awards" such as CAPE or medicare 5 star awards, so that when they present their policies to large companies, they will be more attractive. In fact many corporations look at these, in addition to the value of the plans when deciding to offer it to their employees.

David Losh says

The Insurance Industry is obstructing our ability to access health care, by price

This may be somewhat true, but the ACA definitely didnt help it any...

PS at the end of reading your post, I didnt see the point of your VERY long post...

Meccos   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 9:37am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 34

David Losh says

Meccos says

You can simply pay out of pocket and that will solve your problems...

Sure if you can make the same payments the insurance company gets, otherwise you pay full retail.

If you approach most doctors with offers of cash pay, they will charge you SIGNIFICANTLY less. This is because doctors get paid a small percentage to what they bill insurance companies. Plus doctors wont have to hire someone full time to deal with the crazy coding.

zzyzzx   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 10:43am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 35

David Losh says

So Health Insurance points to it's low profits, but the stock prices tell a different story.

Link?

David Losh   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 10:47am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 36

zzyzzx says

Link?

http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2012/06/28/on-heels-of-supreme-court-decision.html?page=all

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35982077/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/stocks-led-health-care-companies-end/

They are too numerous to list, but there are a couple.

David Losh   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 10:50am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 37

Meccos says

PS at the end of reading your post, I didnt see the point of your VERY long post...

Meccos says

If you approach most doctors with offers of cash pay, they will charge you SIGNIFICANTLY less. This is because doctors get paid a small percentage to what they bill insurance companies. Plus doctors wont have to hire someone full time to deal with the crazy coding.

David Losh says

The Insurance Industry is obstructing our ability to access health care, by price. We need to lower the price for health care. We can do that by dedicating more resources, premiums, directly to care.

David Losh   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 10:51am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 38

Let me repeat, that the Health Insurance Industry has done nothing to help provide Health Care, they are only a means to get money for doing nothing, but shuffling paper.

carrieon   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 10:56am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 39

People without health insurance don't complain about healthcare costs.
That's about half the population. Join them by quit paying for it, or stop complaining.

Dan8267   Wed, 2 Jan 2013, 11:32am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 40

Is there any health insurance company that doesn't suck?

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