(San Francisco Chronicle) Editor –
Blue Shield CEO Bruce Bodaken may have a point when he says, “The key to health care affordability – everybody pays” (Open Forum, Aug. 16), but he’s side-stepping two questions: “Who does everyone pay?” and “What for?” Bodaken says everyone should pay insurance companies for private policies that don’t cover our health needs, especially for poor people, and that wastes more than $20 billion each year in profits and administrative costs. Single-payer advocates for SB840 (Kuehl) say eliminate insurance companies and use the savings to provide everyone in California with equal, comprehensive, low-cost health care.
Blue Shield’s own performance says it all. Half of last year’s complaints to the state over denied services involved Blue Shield. Blue Shield is the most aggressive insurer in claiming the right to cancel patients and deny their claims when they get sick. Blue Shield spent more than $930,000 lobbying its interests in Sacramento and Washington since 2004 – money we paid in premiums for health care.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan, which Bodaken essentially proposed in 2002, requires everyone to buy private insurance with no limit on premiums, can require thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs before it kicks in, makes employers pay less than Wal-Mart spends, and indirectly subsidizes private insurance companies by using tax money to (barely) help the poorest pay their premiums.
Yes, we need to take care of each other, but not the insurance companies.