BY Beth Comery
Happy New Year direct payers, some of you can look forward to double-digit rate hikes in 2012. Once again Blue Cross Blue Shield direct payers (who have no other choice in Rhode Island) are being asked to supplement the benefits afforded to the groups with bargaining power and clout. According to an article on A-2 of today’s Providence Journal, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island is seeking an average 4.4% rate hike.
While the average increase is 4.4 percent, some of the plans would see double-digit decreases [Would love to see comprehensive list of these subscribers. BC] while some would get hit with double-digit increases. A hearing on the proposed increase will be held Tuesday, January 17. Sessions will be held at 9am and 6:30pm at the office of the state Public Utilities Commission, 89 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick. Written comments may be mailed to Hearing Officer, Herbert W. Olson, Esq., c/o Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, 1511 Pontiac Ave., Building #69-1, Cranston, R.I. 02920. All written submissions must be received no later than January 17 at 9am.
If BCBSRI is going to claim another losing year just keep in mind that CEO Peter Andruszkiewicz makes $600,000 a year in salary alone. Sounds kind of high for someone not good at his job. Many if not most direct payers (that’s about 14,000 Rhode Islanders right now) are self-employed and working like mad just to stay afloat; they may find it difficult to take time off on a weekday to listen to insurance company lawyers speaking very slowly about their rising costs. If you can’t get to one of the two sessions at least contact the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner at ic.ri.gov.
And if State Health Commissioner Christopher F. Koller intends to declare victory after he negotiates the double-digit rate increase down to single, then maybe he should treat himself to a quick vacation south of the border for a refresher course of ‘Haggling 101′. (Hint: Start with a request for a rate reduction and then agree to compromise at 0%.)