Thursday, January 27, 2011

Free Enterprise, Anthem Blue Cross-style

Tiger Mom in cage

The saga of getting Vimpat on Anthem's formulary so that we can afford to give the drug to Sophie continues. For me, each day begins with a review of whom I need to call, to whom I need to send a letter and whom I need to email. I have a friend working on speaking with my assemblyman about the matter, someone who is on the insurance commission -- not health insurance, but he's closest in power. I have a colleague at the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles who is in contact with a director over at the national office; evidently, this matter comes up all the time and there are even educational documents for the insurance company to read (at their leisure), bringing them up to speed on issues unique to epilepsy and anti-seizure medication. Anthem is not alone in private insurance company ignorance. Surprise, surprise. In addition to the grievance process with Anthem, I've also filed a complaint with the California Insurance Commission, advice given to me by some higher-upper at the Epilepsy Foundation. It's a lot of make-work, if you ask me, incredibly frustrating and inefficient and all in the name of FREE ENTERPRISE.

Go figure.

The highest irony of all is the letter I got yesterday from Anthem. It seems that "due to increased medical costs," Sophie's insurance premium will be increased another 35% by April 1st. Her insurance premium has been increased 69% in the two years that we've had it. I've mentioned before that we were unable to add Sophie to our family policy because of her pre-existing condition. While this is changing, I should also note that our health insurance premium (for The Husband, myself and our two sons) has increased by over 80% in the three years we've had it.

The salary of the CEO of Anthem Blue Cross was over $10 MILLION last year. Here's a tasty tidbit of free enterprise at its best:

Anthem and Wellpoint had at least two internal initiatives to fund: multi-million dollar lobbying efforts to kill reform, and payment of plump severance packages to executives and highly compensated CEOs, such as Angela Braly, whose $10 million salary is augmented by off-the-books benefits and stock options. It was Braly who announced bluntly at a business meeting that the corporation puts profits over people: "We will not sacrifice profitability for membership. (from

Enough said.

I'm off to make those calls, write those letters, pull myself up (and hopefully others as well) by the proverbial bootstraps and revel in what The Ohioan Tan Man (Speaker of the House Boehner) called as late as last week, "the greatest healthcare system on Earth."


  1. I just cannot think of a thing to say here! Oh, wait, I'm wondering if faux tans are covered under the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Federal High Option plan--or possible health issues from faux tanning? As you can see, I really can't think of anything to say.


  2. sucks. i'm really sorry.

    on the other hand my word verification is lucks. so maybe those letters will land.

  3. i am reading your story and glad you are documenting it. it's so fucked up your premium increased that much for S. i'm sorry Elizabeth. you keep FIGHTING. you are an amazing mother. and smart as hell. you give em hell.

  4. Free Market = Monopoly

    This is a glaring example of our cultural insanity. And the worms have crawled out of their rot and openly state their sociopathic minds.

    I don't know what else to say, on no level is any of this right.

  5. Why does anyone need $10m a year? *speechless*

    May the force be with you!


  6. Wow. I'm so sorry.

    Keep on keeping on...

  7. I'm exhausted just reading about all the phone calls and emails you have to make and deal with. And the premium increase? The $10m salary? So.wrong.

  8. OK, that post hit a little too close to home. Insurance woes create a very toxic mix of fear and sadness in me.

    I did the only thing I could think to do under the circumstances - bought you a lottery ticket and poured myself a big glass of wine.

  9. Sending you strength to fight the bastards.

  10. OMG. I have entertained a fantasy of leaving my severely autistic teenage son on the doorstep of some politician who is trying to cut medicaid and telling him/her to take care of him for one week without assistance and see if that changes his/her mind. I know you can't leave your lovely daughter on anyone's doorstep (nor can I leave my son), but I wonder if it would make a difference. What you don't see, you don't know. They need to SEE!

  11. That is a heinous amount of money for anyone to take home, no matter what they do for a living. For her to take that salary while raising premiums sky-high is horrible. I hope that you pace yourself as you do this work. It can have huge positive effect in the long run, but please take care of YOU as you do it.

  12. Horrendous, ALL of it. I feel sick just reading this and as you know, I am so tired of all these extra hoops we are all forced to jump through all the time just to get what our kids need. And I agree with Karen -- pace yourself and treat yourself extra kindly. xxxoo

  13. It's sickening. And what Maggie said? Yes.



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