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banyon
02-13-2010, 09:02 AM
WellPoint Takes Heat Over Rates



http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704337004575059913178282490.html
By LAURA MECKLER

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is seizing on a big health-insurance rate increase by WellPoint Inc. in California as fresh evidence of the need for action as it tries to resuscitate its health-care legislation.

WellPoint, the country's largest insurer by number of members, responded Thursday to repeated criticism with a letter blaming the 39% increase in the individual market on the economy and rising health costs. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hit back with a statement saying she wasn't satisfied.

All week, Democrats from President Barack Obama on down have cited the company's rate plans as a justification for a health-care overhaul that would remake the individual market, where people who don't get insurance through their jobs shop for coverage.

They have made a twofold case: that the Democratic legislation would prevent this sort of price increase, and that insurance companies cannot be trusted and must be controlled with new rules.

Republicans weren't jumping to defend WellPoint, but they disagreed on the solution.

Republican lawmakers have called for a more step-by-step approach, including high-risk pools for some people with medical conditions who couldn't otherwise afford insurance.

"If the argument is that the WellPoint hike means we need reform, well, 'duh,'" said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner. "But our proposal holds down costs, without the trillion-dollar government takeover."

Brian A. Sassi, president of WellPoint's consumer business, said in his letter to Ms. Sebelius that the increase only affects the individual market, about 10% of its business in California.

He said that despite an overall profit, the company, which does business as Anthem Blue Cross, suffered a 2009 loss in that market in California.

He said requiring people to buy health insurance would mitigate the problem.

In that sense, he and Mr. Obama are on the same side. The Democratic plan would require people to carry insurance.

Democrats say that is needed to keep prices down because it would bring more low-cost healthy people into the customer pool to balance out the sick people. Most Republicans call that requirement unconstitutional and a big-government intrusion.

WellPoint opposes other aspects of the pending Democratic legislation, said spokesman David Palombi.

He said the bills don't have a severe enough penalty for people who fail to get insurance and don't do enough to control health-care costs. But he agreed his company's rate hike is a good argument for action.

"This really is a case study for the need for an individual mandate,"

Insurers Post Big Profits, Cut Coverage, New Report Says
4:38 pm

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/02/insurers_post_big_profits_cut.html

February 12, 2010

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By Nadja Popovich

The nation's five biggest insurance companies made $12 billion in profits last year, but dropped 2.7 million people from their roles, according to a report released today by Health Care For American Now, a health reform advocacy group.

The report, which draws on the companies' U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, found the overall profits for the big five --UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna -- were up 56 percent since 2008. Only Aetna's profits fell.

Avram Goldstein, research director for HCAN, told Shots his team compared the earnings numbers for the big five over the years: "[T]hey've never come close to these numbers before," with the exception of 2007. That was "a very good year, around $11 billion. But this is a record," he said. And, the growing profits defied a major recession, which last year was in full swing. Goldstein said the companies' profitability rose because of rate hikes and increased cost-sharing -- meaning a greater burden of co-payments, deductibles for policy holders, though insurers refute that claim.

The report comes at an opportune time for overhaul advocates and officials hoping to jump start the reform debate. For instance, it plays right in to the White House's hand in the standoff between the Obama administration and Anthem Blue Cross over the insurer's decision to raise premiums for some California policy holders by more than a third. Anthem, a subsidiary of big-five insurer WellPoint, is specifically called out in the report, which suggests the California insurer hiked rates for sick people in order to 'purge' them from their roles and remain profitable.

America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, said the rate increases reflect the rising costs of medical services. Insurance companies' administrative costs -- including profits -- shrank last year "while spending on hospitals, physicians, and prescription drugs continued to soar," said Robert Zirkelbach, an AHIP spokesman. "For every dollar spent on health care in America, less than one penny goes towards health plan profits. Health plan profits are well below other industries within the health care sector," he said.

Goldstein sees it differently. "One penny of the health care dollar comes to about $25 billion a year, or $250 billion over 10 years, equal to one-quarter of the cost of the entire health reform package. That's quite a penny."

BigRedChief
02-13-2010, 09:11 AM
Ins. Co. & CEO With 2007 Total CEO Compensation

Aetna (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1122304/000095012308004369/y53278dpdef14a.htm#129) Ronald A. Williams: $23,045,834
Cigna (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/701221/000104746908003139/a2183837zdef14a.htm) H. Edward Hanway: $25,839,777
Coventry (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1054833/000095013308001440/w51967def14a.htm) Dale B. Wolf : $14,869,823
Health Net (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/916085/000119312508072805/ddef14a.htm#toc81035_11) Jay M. Gellert: $3,686,230
Humana (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/49071/000119312508052269/ddef14a.htm#toc36536_8) Michael McCallister: $10,312,557
U.Health Grp (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/731766/000119312508093196/ddef14a.htm#toc78885_24) Stephen J. Hemsley: $13,164,529
WellPoint (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1156039/000119312508074752/ddef14a.htm#tx31542_104) Angela Braly (2007): $9,094,271
L. Glasscock (2006): $23,886,169
Ins. Co. & CEO With 2008 Total CEO Compensation


Aetna, Ronald A. Williams (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/aetnas-ron-williams-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $24,300,112
Cigna, H. Edward Hanway (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/cignas-h-edward-hanway-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $12,236,740
Coventry, Dale Wolf (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/coventry-health-cares-dale-wolf-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14):$9,047,469
Health Net, Jay Gellert (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/health-nets-jay-gellert-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $4,425,355
Humana, Michael McCallister (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/humanas-michael-mccallister-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $4,764,309
U. Health Group, Stephen J. Hemsley (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/unitedhealth-groups-stephen-hemsley-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $3,241,042
Wellpoint, Angela Braly (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/wellpoints-angela-braly-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $9,844,212
See Nonprofit Health Related CEO Compensation Here. (http://www.healthreformwatch.com/2009/11/16/nonprofit-health-related-ceo-compensation/)

RNR
02-13-2010, 09:22 AM
Ins. Co. & CEO With 2007 Total CEO Compensation

Aetna (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1122304/000095012308004369/y53278dpdef14a.htm#129) Ronald A. Williams: $23,045,834
Cigna (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/701221/000104746908003139/a2183837zdef14a.htm) H. Edward Hanway: $25,839,777
Coventry (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1054833/000095013308001440/w51967def14a.htm) Dale B. Wolf : $14,869,823
Health Net (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/916085/000119312508072805/ddef14a.htm#toc81035_11) Jay M. Gellert: $3,686,230
Humana (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/49071/000119312508052269/ddef14a.htm#toc36536_8) Michael McCallister: $10,312,557
U.Health Grp (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/731766/000119312508093196/ddef14a.htm#toc78885_24) Stephen J. Hemsley: $13,164,529
WellPoint (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1156039/000119312508074752/ddef14a.htm#tx31542_104) Angela Braly (2007): $9,094,271
L. Glasscock (2006): $23,886,169
Ins. Co. & CEO With 2008 Total CEO Compensation


Aetna, Ronald A. Williams (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/aetnas-ron-williams-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $24,300,112
Cigna, H. Edward Hanway (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/cignas-h-edward-hanway-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $12,236,740
Coventry, Dale Wolf (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/coventry-health-cares-dale-wolf-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14):$9,047,469
Health Net, Jay Gellert (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/health-nets-jay-gellert-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $4,425,355
Humana, Michael McCallister (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/humanas-michael-mccallister-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $4,764,309
U. Health Group, Stephen J. Hemsley (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/unitedhealth-groups-stephen-hemsley-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $3,241,042
Wellpoint, Angela Braly (http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/wellpoints-angela-braly-ceo-compensation/2009-05-14): $9,844,212
See Nonprofit Health Related CEO Compensation Here. (http://www.healthreformwatch.com/2009/11/16/nonprofit-health-related-ceo-compensation/)

:shake: Pretty sickening numbers. I have no issue with profit but anyone who thinks we do not need to address our health care and the way it is run is blind or evil~

stevieray
02-13-2010, 09:31 AM
I find it highly amusing people whining about high salaries on a forum dedicated to athletes who make millions.

set your broken arm...greedy bastard

catch a football..you're so awesome!

RNR
02-13-2010, 09:36 AM
I find it highly amusing people whining about high salaries on a forum dedicated to athletes who make millions.

set your broken arm...greedy bastard

catch a football..you're so awesome!

The reality of this reply speaks huge to our way of thinking rep~

petegz28
02-13-2010, 10:04 AM
This was already brought up in another thread and I think it is BS what they did.

BigRedChief
02-13-2010, 10:15 AM
This was already brought up in another thread and I think it is BS what they did.They are not Wall street bankers. They shouldnt be paid like a Wall street banker. Do we really need to list what $23 million would buy in health care for their members who are paying the premiums?

I'm okay with profit. I don't want socialized government run health care. But, jeeezzz come on greed is not good for us. It's only good for the greedy bastages.

petegz28
02-13-2010, 10:17 AM
They are not Wall street bankers. They shouldnt be paid like a Wall street banker. Do we really need to list what $23 million would buy in health care for their members who are paying the premiums?

I'm okay with profit. I don't want socialized government run health care. But, jeeezzz come on greed is not good for us. It's only good for the greedy bastages.

Well, that is a fine line you are walking there. I don't want the Fed Gov telling people how much they can and cannot make.

Baby Lee
02-13-2010, 10:17 AM
I find it highly amusing people whining about high salaries on a forum dedicated to athletes who make millions.

set your broken arm...greedy bastard

catch a football..you're so awesome!

Duh, we HAVE money for what we want, what we don't have is money for what we need. . . How is this difficult? ;)

stevieray
02-13-2010, 10:18 AM
Duh, we HAVE money for what we want, what we don't have is money for what we need. . . How is this difficult? ;)

LMAO

RJ
02-13-2010, 10:18 AM
I find it highly amusing people whining about high salaries on a forum dedicated to athletes who make millions.

set your broken arm...greedy bastard

catch a football..you're so awesome!



Athletes are way overpaid, but I guess as long as we keep filling the stadiums and watching on tv they'll continue cak'n, patna.

I might feel a little better about those CEO's if one of them ever set my broken arm or checked my blood pressure.

I have no issue with doctors making big money, especially the family practice docs. Those folks work hard.

HonestChieffan
02-13-2010, 10:25 AM
If i recall. 85% of the premium income was paid out in claims. If I am correct that means by focusing on pay in total at one of these outfits means if you are 100% successful in making every empolyee work for free and they have no contribution to pay the heat and light bill, you can impact 15% of the money.

Its politically a good thing to demonize the company but it does nothing to address the fact that HC Costs are the issue. You do zero to address the cost if all you focus on is some guys pay.

But then this is not about HC Cost, its all about HC Control. Its pure politics.

Saul Good
02-13-2010, 10:27 AM
Duh, we HAVE money for what we want, what we don't have is money for what we need. . . How is this difficult? ;)

We even build stadiums costing hundreds of millions of dollars with taxpayer money for those athletes to work in. Then, they turn around and charge ticket prices that are so exorbitantly high that the average Joe can't afford to see a game in the stadium he's paying for. We need sports insurance. Then, I can just make a $10 copay for a ticket to a sporting event, and insurance will cover the rest.

RINGLEADER
02-13-2010, 10:29 AM
Not sure how you make the leap to say Republicans favor the status quo. Most Americans just despise the Dem solution that gives government control over reimbursements (and by extension the types of care doctors may provide), includes gerrymandered taxes that carve out the Dem unions, and reward Dem lawmakers with corrupt payoffs. They oppose Obamacare that doesn't reduce rates, will raise the deficit, and not improve the system. They question the legimacy of a law that forces Americans to buy something they neither need nor want so as to offset cost that otherwise would result in even larger increases to premiums than the ones that have you upset here.

You may support all these thing (many, like promises to keep your existing insurance or not raising taxes one dime or not covering abortion are things Obama now seems to have no interest in following through on). But just because most Americans don't does not mean they favor the status quo.

Saul Good
02-13-2010, 10:32 AM
Not sure how you make the leap to say Republicans favor the status quo. Most conservatives and liberatarians I know just despise the Dem solution that gives government control over reimbursements (and by extension the types of care doctors may provide), includes gerrymandered taxes that carve out the Dem unions, and reward Dem lawmakers with corrupt payoffs. They oppose Obamacare that doesn't reduce rates, will raise the deficit, and not improve the system. They question the legimacy of a law that forces Americans to buy something they neither need nor want so as to offset cost that otherwise would result in even larger increases to premiums than the ones that have you upset here.

You may support all these thing (many, like promises to keep your existing insurance or not raising taxes one dime or not covering abortion are things Obama now seems to have no interest in following through on). But just because most Americans don't does not mean they favor the status quo.

Wrong.

Opposing bribes to Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu = Yay status quo!!!

Baby Lee
02-13-2010, 10:41 AM
If i recall. 85% of the premium income was paid out in claims. If I am correct that means by focusing on pay in total at one of these outfits means if you are 100% successful in making every empolyee work for free and they have no contribution to pay the heat and light bill, you can impact 15% of the money.

Its politically a good thing to demonize the company but it does nothing to address the fact that HC Costs are the issue. You do zero to address the cost if all you focus on is some guys pay.

But then this is not about HC Cost, its all about HC Control. Its pure politics.

What people seem to miss [I'll leave out the concept of willfill or not] is the cost effects of all the socialized aspects already present. They make fun of people who say 'keep your socialism off my Medicare' and while that is a funny statement on its surface, Medicare benefits from the sacrifices of the market. Providers hate their reimbursement rate, but at present they can get away from pushing losses over to private insurance. And this is what is causing the rate hikes for the rest and predicating the present drama.

Its like a doctor explaining that, see you have lung cancer, and you won't live long with it, but as I see it, the real problem is that your healthy cells are too greedy, and want exorbitant amounts of oxygen. But it looks like the cancer is getting it's oxygen just fine. So I propose giving you full body cancer

HonestChieffan
02-13-2010, 10:51 AM
Just get really tired of how both sides deal with HC reform as a way to advance politics and have zero interest in solving the pieces incrementally that need fixed. The republicans have sort of tried to float that approach but it gets no traction when we have issues like wellpoint and turning it into a point of rage without looking deeper into the numbers

Chief Henry
02-13-2010, 11:42 AM
Heres a headline we should see - but we won't !

"LAWYERS GET PAID $500 AN HOUR AND YET 50% LOSE EACH TIME IN COURT-CLIENTS GET HOSED ANYWAY"

To see lawyers bitching about corporate executives incomes is absurd.

How many gazzilion dollars of benefits have those health insurance companies paid out in benefits ???

My father inlaw has had two major bouts with cancer with all the treatments, numerous blood clots, one major heart by pass surgery with dozens and dozens of trips to specialist in Des Moines. His health insurance has been outstanding w/ minimal hassles. To think he would have gotten better care in Canada or Cuba or England is LIBERAL hog wash. Those countires health care systems is what we would end up with here in America in a dozen years or so. Obama and Barney Frank have stated so.

Health care cost are rising - but to think the current Democrats plan will actually
lower cost is insane. Several things can be done to lower cost, but that crap Barry, Nancy and Harry want to shove down our throats will NOT do what needs to be done.

banyon
02-13-2010, 02:07 PM
Not sure how you make the leap to say Republicans favor the status quo. Most Americans just despise the Dem solution that gives government control over reimbursements (and by extension the types of care doctors may provide), includes gerrymandered taxes that carve out the Dem unions, and reward Dem lawmakers with corrupt payoffs. They oppose Obamacare that doesn't reduce rates, will raise the deficit, and not improve the system. They question the legimacy of a law that forces Americans to buy something they neither need nor want so as to offset cost that otherwise would result in even larger increases to premiums than the ones that have you upset here.

You may support all these thing (many, like promises to keep your existing insurance or not raising taxes one dime or not covering abortion are things Obama now seems to have no interest in following through on). But just because most Americans don't does not mean they favor the status quo.

What is that solution they were working on so hard for 6 years with control of government?

What is the solution now? Private accounts? Let people save who have money?

Taco John
02-13-2010, 02:38 PM
What people seem to miss [I'll leave out the concept of willfill or not] is the cost effects of all the socialized aspects already present. They make fun of people who say 'keep your socialism off my Medicare' and while that is a funny statement on its surface, Medicare benefits from the sacrifices of the market. Providers hate their reimbursement rate, but at present they can get away from pushing losses over to private insurance. And this is what is causing the rate hikes for the rest and predicating the present drama.

Its like a doctor explaining that, see you have lung cancer, and you won't live long with it, but as I see it, the real problem is that your healthy cells are too greedy, and want exorbitant amounts of oxygen. But it looks like the cancer is getting it's oxygen just fine. So I propose giving you full body cancer

great post

Taco John
02-13-2010, 02:39 PM
What is the solution now? Private accounts? Let people save who have money?


That's a good start.

RINGLEADER
02-13-2010, 06:50 PM
What is that solution they were working on so hard for 6 years with control of government?

What is the solution now? Private accounts? Let people save who have money?



Anything that reduces the burden on the government is a good beginning. Just like investing in upgrading computers to create a standard in the health care industry is a good idea. There are plenty of good ideas that would reduce costs but chief among them would be the acknowledgement that you can't cover everyone and can't treat people who cost millions the same way as those who don't. That's one of the flawed elements of the Dem plan -- it's a shell game that is neither sustainable nor particularly effective at achieving the desired result. Unfortunately, the Dems care more about control than care. Their behavior underscores that fact.

But it is telling that you don't seem to have an answer for the basic points that opponents of Obamacare find objectionable.

Seriously, you could come up with ten easy steps that could be put down into a 10 page bill and achieve more than the Dems are hoping to accomplish in 2000 pages. You wouldn't have control over the system, which is their wet dream, but you could make great in-roads into cost-containment.

Create a pool of catastrophic health care plans that can be sold across state-lines for low-cost as a back-stop to eliminate the potential of going bankrupt from medical emergencies. The aforementioned computer modernization. Simple tort reform that requires the losing party to pay the costs of both plaintiff and defendant. Extreme penalties for medicare fraud and abuse (no more $250 ace bandages). Each of those steps would address a fundamental problem while simultaneously reducing the long-term (and crushing) weight on the health care industry. If you want to get into social safety net areas -- which I know many loathe but would be a necessity in the minds of many -- you can means test reimbursements, provide subsidies for the aforementioned catastrophic plans for periods of time. I don't agree with all these steps but there are approaches that are at least manageable and not based in the fantasy. They're not going to create a perfect system but at least they would rely upon our economic system for solutions rather than bankrupting the country in a losing effort.