“Unintended consequences” of BlueCross’ ad campaign

In opposing reforms to prevent them from denying Californians coverage, Blue Cross is bringing up the energy crisis, but the analogy might backfire.

Newspapers and even this blog have already chronicled BlueCross’ bad behavior in the marketplace, and their overall opposition to any health care reform.

Now they have launched a $2 million-plus ad campaign, under the name “Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Reform.” (The LA Times’ Political Muscle covers it here.) Blue Cross should be ashamed, spending millions to retain their ability to deny coverage to Californians.

The ads say “Remember how the rash enery deregulation of the energy market in California spawned power outages and soaring rates? Let’s not go there again.”

But if the energy crisis is the analogy, then Blue Cross is Enron, taking advantage of an unregulated California market and leading to a blackout of coverage for millions. But even the now-disgraced Enron never had the gall to run ads arguing that they should be allowed to continue to manipulate the market.

Because there are so few rules on insurers now, Californians are concerned now they are one job change or life event away from facing a blackout of coverage. We have over 6 million Californians in a coverage blackout. Frankly, we have tolerated deregulation for too long: new and fair rules would increase the security that Californians have now with their coverage, so they are not denied because of their health status.

BlueCross’ ad campaign may backfire with the public. They won’t believe BlueCross, and they will make it clear to Californians what we can win with health reform.

DOING A FACT CHECK: I think Californians know better than to believe Blue Cross and their misleading statements, especially the absurd notion that buying health coverage as an individual is affordable now. Their ad won’t persuade most Californians that individual insurance is affordable now, from a 50-year old woman in the Bay Area, to anybody that takes a handful of prescriptions a year.

Blue Cross’ price comparisons matches apples and oranges. It’s different products, different people, and different states:
* The list price in many states does not include the significant mark up for age or those who have even minor health issues.
* The states with “guaranteed issue” are Northeast states which started with higher costs of living and higher insurance costs generally.
* Finally, you can’t compare a product that actually covers you when you are sick, to one that will not.

We’ll have more later in the day.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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