WellPoint, Inc.
Health Insurer Protects Bottom Line at Californians’ Expense

WellPoint, Inc. (a.k.a. Anthem Blue Cross a.k.a. Blue Cross of California) is one of the country’s health insurance giants. The Wall Street-traded company brought in profits of $2.5 billion in 2008[1], and it:

Puts profits over people. The company’s profits increased by more than 330% from 2003 to 2007.[2] But when profits dipped in 2008 – to just $588 million by the end of March[3] – CEO Angela Braly reassured investors, “We will not sacrifice profitability for membership.”[4]

Is no friend to Californians. WellPoint/Anthem/Blue Cross of California has racked up scandal after scandal. Meanwhile, it’s raising premium rates – in many cases by more than 30 percent — for most of its individual members in California.[5] Some recent press:

§ “In a lawsuit, Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo alleged that [Anthem] sold consumers false promises of coverage and concealed a scheme to renege on policies for those patients who incurred serious and often expensive medical diagnoses, such as cancer and congestive heart failure.”[6]
§ “Physicians object to a letter from [Anthem] Blue Cross seeking information that could lead to policy cancellations….The state’s largest for-profit health insurer is asking California physicians to look for conditions it can use to cancel their new patients’ medical coverage.”[7]

§ “WellPoint Inc., the second-largest U.S. health insurer by revenue, has been barred from adding customers to Medicare plans after it denied prescription drugs to the elderly, endangering their lives, the government said.”[8]

While WellPoint continues to profit, people in California and nationwide are struggling to pay skyrocketing health care costs.

In 2007, WellPoint/Anthem/Blue Cross of California formed a political committee and set aside a reported $2 million to block health care reform in California.[9]

Private health insurers like Wellpoint, Inc. have been making their own rules for too long. They are the bureaucrats that come between you and your doctor. They are fighting real health care reform because they make money off the current health care crisis. Tell your Member of Congress you want the choice of a public health insurance plan so you are no longer at the mercy of greedy private insurance companies. Tell executives like Angela Braly they can no longer be allowed to put profits before people’s health care needs.
[1] WellPoint, Inc., “WellPoint Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2008 Results,” Press Release, January
[2] Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, “Insuring Health or Ensuring Profit?,” Summer 2008
[3] Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, “WellPoint Reports First Quarter 2008 Results,” Press Release, April 23, 2008.
[4] “Final Transcript, WLP – Q1 2008 WellPoint, Inc. Earnings Conference Call,” Thomson StreetEvents, April 23, 2008.
[5] Victoria Colliver, “Big Jump in blue Cross Premiums Sparks Outrage,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 11, 2009.
[6] Lisa Girion, “L.A. sues Anthem Blue Cross over rescissions; City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo says the health insurer made false promises of coverage and hid a scheme to drop sick policyholders,” Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2008.
[7] Lisa Girion, “Doctors balk at request for data; Physicians object to a letter from Blue Cross seeking information that could lead to policy cancellations,” Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2008
[8] Avram Goldstein, “WellPoint Cut Elderly off from Medicines, U.S. Says (Update 3),” Bloomberg.com, January 12, 2009
[9]“Blue Cross funding campaign against governor’s health reform,” Associated Press, OCRegister.com, May 27, 2007

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