If you live in California, you’re probably familiar with WellPoint, the biggest insurer in the nation, and their California subsidiary, Anthem Blue Cross – the biggest insurer in the state.
Chances are, many of you reading this are also aware of how WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross have implemented an aggressive policy aimed at covering only the healthy and doing everything in their power to avoid covering those deemed a “high-risk,” because of so-called “pre-existing conditions.”
But did you know that WellPoint and its subsidiary have also been engaged in an aggressive campaign effort to derail national health reform? Just last month, it was reported that Anthem Blue Cross sent an e-mail to millions of their subscribers littered with false information and outright lies about the House Health Reform Bill, H.R. 3200.
The people of California are fed up. We’re tired of the big insurance companies spending big money to undermine the real reform we so desperately need. Join us on Tuesday September 22nd in Los Angeles and San Francisco as we stand up to California’s most notorious private insurance company.
So join us on Tuesday September 22nd in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area as we tell WellPoint and Anthem Blue Cross to STOP denying us care and STOP using our premiums to lobby against health reform!
What: “Big Insurance: Sick of It” Rally
Where: Anthem Blue Cross, 801 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles
When: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 11:00 am
San Francisco Bay Area:
What: “Big Insurance: Sick of It” Rally
Where: Anthem Blue Cross – 2 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA
When: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 11:30 am
Why WellPoint and Anthem Blue Cross?
Wellpoint is the biggest insurer in the nation. Anthem Blue Cross of California, its subsidiary, is the biggest insurer in California, with 6.8 million customers relying on it for coverage. Starting with a “robo-call” campaign in April, Anthem Blue Cross urged subscribers into action to help defeat health reform. More recently, Wellpoint called subscribers and urged them to write letters to Congress per instructions on its fake “grassroots” website. Wellpoint has 33.5 million subscribers — who likely are unaware its CEO is on the record as favoring “profits over people.”
Wellpoint & its Anthem Blue Cross of California are the insurer most aggressively opposed to health reform:
In just the first six months of 2009, Wellpoint spent nearly $3 million lobbying Capitol Hill against health reform, targeting the public option that would give them competition in the marketplace.
Just last month, Anthem Blue Cross sent E-mails to California subscribers with false information attacking H.R.3200, the House version of health reform.
California’s Attorney General is investigating complaints that Anthem Blue Cross violated labor law in telling their employes to play politics by attending town halls as opponents of health reform — and signing sample letters to their Congressmen urging the defeat of health reform.
This is not a new role for them. In 2007, Anthem Blue Cross & Wellpoint were the leading opponent to the health reform push of Governor Schwarzenegger, spending over $2 million on a deceptive ad campaign against the proposal.
In Sacramento, they consistently oppose not just big comprehensive health reforms, but even small, specific, common-sense bills at the state legislature. They oppose bills to: stop insurers from charging women more than men; require labeling of insurance policies so consumers know what they are buying, stop insurers from the unfair practice of yanking coverage of people who get sick, make maternity coverage standard in policies, and place a limit on out-of-pocket costs for customers.
Wellpoint and Anthem Blue Cross aren’t just the leading opposition to health reform; they and their anti-consumer practices are the reason we need health reform so urgently.
They are one of the most aggressive companies in denying people coverage for so-called “pre-existing conditions.”
They had the largest cases of rescissions, where insurers retroactively yank people’s coverage away from them after medical bills come in. In February 2009, California fined Anthem Blue Cross $1 million for yanking coverage of 2,330 customers who submitted medical bills. It took the $1 million fine to get Anthem Blue Cross to actually cover those medical expenses that customers paid for when they bought coverage.
They hike rates without justification. Some 80% of individual policy subscribers in California got premium increases of up to 39% in the past year — just as the recession was tightening its grip on people’s household budgets. In fact, Anthem Blue Cross has decided to target the “individual” policy market aggressively in California because it is the least regulated and offers the highest profits. More than a third — about 3 million — of its policies sold in California are the less-regulated individual policies.
They aggressively engage in “cherry-picking,” an insurance industry practice that markets coverage to young, healthy people and avoids those who may need medical care. They market “skeleton” or “junk insurance” with bare-bones coverage for consumers, leaving consumers with significant debt, even after paying premiums.
Anthem Blue Cross and Wellpoint choose profits over people. Wellpoint CEO Angela Braley told shareholders, “We will not sacrifice profitability for membership.” Braley’s executive salary? Upwards of $10 million annually, plus stock options and benefits.
Wellpoint and Anthem Blue Cross of California needs to stop using our premium dollars to oppose health reform, and to stop the practices that make health reform so necessary in the first place.