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Blue Cross Back At The Trough

BCBSRI The headline says it all “Blue Cross seeking hefty rate increase.” According to today’s Providence Journal,

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is proposing 2014 premium increases averaging 18 percent for individuals and 15 percent for small groups. The rates, the largest increases requested by Blue Cross in recent years, must be approved by Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller, who often requires lower rates than those requested.

Yes, they start very, very high and then everyone haggles it down to a lower rate, which is now merely very high. And who better to gouge than the people with little or no bargaining power — individual payers and small businesses.

Imagine for a moment that five years ago Washington had waved a magic wand and declared “Medicare for all.”  Where would we be now? Just think of the newly robust small businesses expanding their operations, employers free to focus on innovation and productivity, hiring more people and increasing compensation in the form of raises, real dollars to be pumped back into the economy, and new start-ups hiring even more people. And of course, access to health care for everyone.

In the meantime, on behalf of individual payers everywhere, “Mr. Koller, HELP!