So Blue Shield finally blinked. On Wednesday, the health insurer withdrew proposed rate increases of as much as 86.5% on individual policies. This hike would have been on top of increases Blue Shield imposed on its customers in January and October. From the Sacramento Bee:
“Blue Shield has withdrawn its rate filing with the California Department of Insurance and the company will not increase rates to any individual or family plan member for the remainder of the year,” said Blue Shield chairman and chief executive officer Bruce Bodaken, in a statement.
Blue Shield says it’s canceling the hikes because the company’s pay outs on medical claims has been less than expected. But I’d like to think massive public and political pressure, particularly from Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, had a lot to do with it. Nevertheless, Blue Shield says it won’t raise rates until at least next year, giving customers only a temporary reprieve.
The only way we are going to stop Blue Shield and other insurance companies from constant price gouging is to relieve them of their business once and for all. More and more of our citizens are being forced to switch to cheaper, lower-quality insurance coverage, or drop coverage altogether because of rising premiums. This is road to nowhere. Basically, Californians have a choice: either we eliminate the insurance middlemen and establish SB 810’s public insurance program for all, or we don’t, and end up with a state where only the few and the wealthy get health care.