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Insurers' Bait and Switch

By       Message Wendell Potter     Permalink
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Campground owner Mike Stella told Kofman that all of his salary and part of his wife's goes to health insurance. "Another rate increase is probably going to put us over the top," the Portland Press Herald quoted him as saying.

Stella said he and his wife pay nearly $1,000 a month in insurance premiums, and they must spend $17,000 a year--more than his annual salary--on premiums and medical care before their Anthem policy starts to cover their costs.

Another small business owner, John Costin of Kennebunk, said Anthem had notified him that the monthly premium for his $30,000-deductible family policy--yes, $30,000--would be going up from $580 a month to $624 this year.

"We ration our health care," he said. "We do whatever we need to for the kids (but) my wife and I delay trips to the doctor. We don't fill prescriptions."

Matters could be even worse for the Stellas and Costins if they lived in Indiana, where Anthem's for-profit parent company, WellPoint, is based. In Indiana, annual family deductibles for Anthem's CoreShare Plan go as high as $50,000. Just stop for a moment for that to sink in. There are not many American families that could spend $50,000 a year out of their own pockets for care and not face bankruptcy. More than half of American families don't even earn $50,000 a year.

So now you see why insurance companies are spending millions of their policyholders premium dollars lobbying federal lawmakers to weaken last year's health care reform bill to allow them to continue marketing these outrageous plans at the same time they're lobbying state lawmakers to kill legislation that would empower regulators to reject excessive increases in rates and deductibles.

By being able to shift more and more of the costs of care from them to American families, they will continue to rack up record profits. Good luck finding a single insurance company executive or shareholder who will express any concern--or even any interest--in the lives of millions of people ruined by such greed.

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for 20 years, Wendell Potter worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick -- all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.
Wendell Potter is an Analyst at the Center for Public Integrity; Former insurance company executive; Author of Deadly (more...)

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