Healthcare

Many more are inadequately insured, soaring costs threaten personal security and unequal access to quality health care creates yet another harsh dividing line in our society.  MCU is an active participant in the Missouri Health Care for All Coalition – a group who is creating a groundswell of support through individual endorsers in order to demand that our legislators create a plan to bring high-quality, affordable health care to all Missourians.  We will make our voices heard through trips to Jefferson City throughout the Legislative Session.  Learn more about Missouri Health Care for All by visiting:  http://www.mohealthcareforall.org.

Skyrocketing health care costs are bankrupting families and pricing working Americans out of the health care system. All Americans must be guaranteed quality affordable coverage that will cover what they need to keep them healthy, provide adequate coverage for when they need it and protect them from out of control costs.

Skyrocketing Costs Forcing More People into Medical Bankruptcies and to Lose their Homes

  • In 2007, an American family filed for bankruptcy because of an illness or injury every 90 seconds. Nearly 80 percent of those who filed had health insurance and more than half had private insurance. [American Journal of Medicine, June 2009]
  • Families filing for bankruptcy due to high medical expenses in 2007 paid an average of $17,943 in out-of-pocket costs. [American Journal of Medicine, June 2009]
  • In 2008, half of all home foreclosures were due in part to the high cost of coverage and care. [Health Matrix 18 (2008): 65-105]

HCRConsolidation of the Private Insurance Industry is Driving up Health Care Costs and Impacting Patient Care

  • Lack of competition in the health insurance market is driving up costs. In 2008, 94 percent of metropolitan areas in the United States were highly concentrated, meaning one insurance company or a small group of companies dominated the majority of the market. [American Medical Association, “Competition in Health Insurance,” 2008]

America’s Working Families and Small Businesses Cannot Afford Skyrocketing Health Care Costs

  • Without comprehensive health care reform, family premiums will likely continue to skyrocket, 70 percent over the next nine years. [Center for American Progress, May 2009]
  • Out-of-pocket spending for Americans with insurance through their employer has increased more than 30 percent between 2004 and 2007. [Health Affairs, 6/2/2009]
  • Four out of five individuals who were uninsured during 2007 and 2008 were from working families.  [Families USA, March 2009]
  • 57 million Americans are in families struggling to pay their medical bills, and the majority of those people – 43 million – are insured. [Center for Studying Health System Change, 9/24/2008]
  • In 2009, one in four non-elderly Americans will spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care. [Families USA, April 2009]

As Number of Uninsured Continues to Climb, American Families Pay the Price

  • As more and more Americans lose their health insurance every day, working families are forced to pick up the tab.  Studies show that the average family pays an additional $1,017 in higher premiums due to the cost of the uninsured. [Families USA, May 2009]

Anthem – Blue Cross and Blue Shield:

The Real Deal

This insurance giant – the nation’s largest – is located in our own backyard.  The practices of Blue Cross Blue Shield are representative of the thousands where costs and premiums continue to escalate, competition is virtually non-existent, profitability and meeting a bottom line are considered over affordability and people who are already sick or become severely ill are either denied coverage or dropped from their insurer.  These concerns make health insurance a luxury for those who can afford it rather than a necessity for those who truly need it.

VIRTUALLY NO COMPETITION LIMITS CHOICES: Between 1995 and 2004, there were over 400 mergers involving health insurers and managed care organizations. The 2004 acquisition of WellPoint Health Networks, Inc., by Anthem, Inc., (now known as WellPoint, Inc.) created the largest health insurer in the country, providing coverage to 28 million Americans.  The ultimate consumers of health care – the patients – do not appear to be benefiting from the consolidation of health insurance markets. Instead, during this period of consolidation, health insurance premiums have risen dramatically and continue to rise without an expansion of benefits.  In St. Louis, no new insurers have entered the market since the mid 1990s.[1]

DENIES THOSE IN NEED: According to the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), two of California’s largest insurers, Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross, have agreed to pay $13 million in fines for rescinding insurance policies from thousands of Californians over the past few years.

  • Anthem Blue Cross, part of WellPoint Inc., agreed to pay $10 million in fines and offer new coverage to 1,770 former members whose coverage was canceled since Between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2008, with no questions asked.
  • Blue Shield agreed to pay $3 million in fines and offer new coverage to 450 people whose coverage has been rescinded since 2004. The insurer is subject to a total fine of $5 million, but the additional $2 million may be forgiven if it institutes corrective actions.[2]

PROFITS OVER PEOPLE CREATES LIMITED AFFORDABILITY: Besides reigning in over $1 billion in annual revenue[3], several state members of BC/BS (such as California, Georgia, Kentucky, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Missouri and Connecticut) have petitioned and changed their status from non-profit to for-profit, a move that would cost health care customers as the company mission shifts from fairness and a commitment to health care access to profitability and the bottom line in order to make money for shareholders once it is publicly traded on the stock market.

In 1994, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri (BCBSMO) began the process of conversion, and in 2002 was purchased by the for-profit WellPoint Health Networks. While non-profit BCBSMO had a practice of working with regulators and community groups on health care access problems, it later became “like any other commercial insurer that just looks out for its own interests in the public policy arena….”[4]

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[1] Donald J. Palmisano, M.D., J.D., “Health insurance markets out of whack,” Physician’s News Digest, March 2005.