Pols’ ire at “profits before patients” misdirected
California Assemblyman and Insurance Commissioner Candidate Dave Jones upbraided Anthem Blue Cross in a hearing in Sacramento this week over its sharp individual health insurance premium increases that are now slated to take effect May 1. Jones expressed particular umbrage with Anthem Blue Cross for trying to make an underwriting profit and raising rates to offset an underwriting loss. “How much profit is enough?” Jones asked Anthem Blue Cross President Leslie Margolin. When Margolin suggested a number in the single digit range of 2 to 5 percent, Jones responded “Have you no shame?”
In hearings in both Sacramento and Washington this week, Anthem’s deplorable sin is “putting profits before patients.” But of course. Anthem owes a duty first and foremost to its shareholders. If Jones and other public policymakers have a problem with a for profit model of paying for health care, they should direct their ire — and search for alternatives — at the model itself rather than unfairly beat up those who work within it.