Response to news announcement by Congressmen John Dingell and Sander Levin
Statement from Andrew Hetzel, vice president of corporate communications, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
August 19, 2009
DETROIT - "Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's business is the model for what Congress hopes to achieve through health reform. We are the most strongly regulated health insurer in Michigan. Blue Cross alone accepts everyone for coverage regardless of their medical condition. We community rate our health care coverage for individuals — which means we ask for the same premium regardless of the individual's health condition. We self-limit our margins — earning just one-tenth of one percent margin over the last 20 years. We work closely with providers to reduce the cost of health care and improve its quality — and have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
"Even with the rate increase, Blue Cross will continue to lose money on its individual products because costs will exceed premiums collected for these individuals.
"Our recent rate increases in the individual market underscore the urgent need for health insurance reform in Michigan and the nation. We would appreciate any effort our Congressional delegation can make in encouraging action in Washington that levels the playing field in Michigan as well as across the nation and ensures that insurers are regulated by the same rules.
"On the state level, insurance regulatory reform has been on the agenda in Lansing for two years and counting. Consumers in Michigan are the victims of a broken state regulatory system that allows other insurance companies to reject the sick, and requires Blue Cross alone to cover those turned away by our competitors. Last year, Blue Cross paid out $133 million more for medical care, after subsidy, for our individual members than we collected in premiums. This is why we asked the state for rate relief. The last thing in the world we want is to cause hardship for our subscribers. But as long as Michigan laws allow all other insurance companies to reject the sick, Blue Cross will continue to lose tens of millions of dollars and premiums for Blue Cross individual products will continue to feel pressure.
"Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan wants to work with lawmakers at both the state and federal levels to end the era of insurance companies using health status to reject people for coverage. This will expand access to quality private insurance coverage for all."
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is nonprofit and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.