Campaign to regulate health insurance premiums launched in SF

Consumer Watchdog is making Blue Shield the poster child for health insurance reform in California.

Representatives from Consumer Watchdog and other groups today launched a ballot measure campaign to regulate health insurance rates in California with an event outside the San Francisco headquarters of Blue Shield of California, which is in the process of substantially increasing health premiums for a second consecutive year despite sitting on billions of dollars in cash reserves.

Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court told us the measure and the campaign to gather the 505,000 valid signatures needed to qualify it for the November ballot would be similar to the group's landmark 1988 campaign to pass Prop. 103, which regulated car insurance rates. That will include an extensive effort to mail petitions directly to voters and seek donations for the efforts, supplemented this time by an e-mail campaign.

“On 103, they got all but 100,000 signatures that way,” Court said, adding, “This is Prop. 103 for health insurance.”

The 800-word measure would require health insurance companies to publicly justify their rate increase requests, make the company CEOs affirm that financial data under penalty of perjury, and make the rate increases subject to approval by California's Insurance Commissioner.

Significantly, the first person to sign the petition was U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who Court told us is co-chairing the campaign. “She has a real passion for the issue,” he said, describing how she was so outraged by a Blue Shield executive's testimony to Congress over its double-digit proposed rate hike last year that she sponsored legislation to regulate health insurance premiums, which was defeated.

Blue Shield is officially a nonprofit company, and Court said its public filings show it has $3.4 billion in reserves, with is about 1400 percent more than the state requires. He also said many Blue Shield customers will be hit with a 15 percent rate hike on March 1, and he cited California Healthcare Foundation figures showing health insurance premiums have increased 153 percent in the last decade, while inflation increased by just 29 percent.

Calls to Blue Shield's press office have not been returned, but I'll update this post if/when they call.


I would love to enroll in Healthy SF.

But I can't.

Because, over the course of my working life, I have saved nearly $200,000 for retirement. I can't enroll in Healthy SF until I spend that money. Many cheat and declare that they don't have any assets.

I pay $1,300 a month for health insurance (me plus two child dependents). Last month, I billed customers $3,300. More than 1/3 of my pay went to pay for insurance. I'm considering joining the drone 9-5 working world for the first time in 30 years.

And, yes, insurance costs rise 15% annually.

Our system is fucked.

Posted by Barton on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 10:36 am

have to "join the drone 9-5 working world"?

Gee, my heart bleeds for you having to go to work like the rest of us.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

The difference is that a drone job doesn't allow him to make an impact. It's basicaly mandatory corporatization.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

Look, the rules are clear enough.

Be a "drone" and get the bennies.

Or be "independent" and pay thru the nose for healthcare.

Everyone has the same choice.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

Son, you don't understand much, do you?

The job CREATORS (you know, people who create their own work) are vital, just like you drones. But health insurance costs are making us think twice.

That is bad for everyone. Because when the job creators dry up, the drones like you won't get jobs in the future.

Now, git back to that thar word processor and finish the project I just gave you!

Posted by Barton on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

If it was not for the drones, you would starve and die of thirst.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

Yes, your heart bleeds. You are a bleeder

I do work. I have a job. I created it all by myself

(do you understand that concept?)

Posted by Barton on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

If you want health cover, do a 9 to 5.

If you want to "brag" about your successful self-employment, then you obviously can afford to buy healthcare yourself.

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 7:30 am

It is time to join the rest of civilization.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

they controlled all branches of governemnt. It's dead at this point.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 2:17 am

You speaketh the truth!

Posted by Barton on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

The latest WHO report ranks US as #27 in cost effectiveness of health care delivery.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

I wish I was in the "city family."

City workers pay $9 a month for full health care and can retire early with full health benefits for life. I shoulda joined the family club and become a pencil pusher, too. (Despite what it would have done for my mental health.)

(By the way, pension costs are going up another $60 million this year.

Posted by Barton on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

themselves out of a job when the taxpayers get sick of subsidising their outrageously unsustainable pay and benefits.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 7:33 am

Pretty sad, particularly when you consider that they are shilling for the same far right corporate groups that have generated the lies/ backlash against public workers.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

Usually it's the left who hate any kind of success or prosperity, and wish to confiscate and destroy it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

The envious are those on the right. They just can't stand the idea that public workers might make a little more than they do, even when it's not true...never mind that public workers are better educated, older and have greater experience.

Hey, I love success and prosperity...that is, when the rich have enough integrity to pay their fair share of taxes. Then I am all for the rich!

Posted by Guest 99% on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

make more money but are also not the rich?

Hmmm. Maybe you need to make up your mind which of those two inconsistent and contradictory beliefs you actually believe.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 1:39 pm