Congress Public Option Wouldn’t Change Much

Blue Cross/Shield was the major very competitive non-profit healthcare insurance provider dating back over 50 years.  The slow, but orderly takeover by Wellpoint Inc. has resulted in virtually no non-profit competitive care.  Matching people’s health needs with shareholders requirements for growth and income is a bad match for patients needs.  On October 30th 2001, the demutualization of Anthem Insurance and Initial Public Offering of Anthem Inc. accelerated the merger process across state lines.  In 2004, Anthem Inc and Wellpoint Health Network Inc merged to become Wellpoint Inc. (Fortune 35 company).  In 1996, Blue Cross of California completed the conversion of all its business to for-profit status.  Policy holders had no vote.  Wellpoint Health became the parent company.  Real competition was eliminated here in California.

Wellpoint should be investigated for anti-trust violations.  They have eliminated the most important Public option competition.  A 20% reduction in Medicare payments, plus a watered down public option, will change little.  Seniors will pay more for their for-profit supplements and little will change unless a non-profit competitor is created.

James Hall

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