Saturday, February 20, 2010


n other healthcare news, newly released figures show the recession has led more Americans to enroll in Medicaid than at any point since its establishment over forty years ago. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than three million people signed up for Medicaid in the year ending last June, increasing enrollment 7.5 percent to a record 46.8 million. Thirteen states reported double-digit increases. As enrollment has ballooned, states across the country have tried to cut benefits to keep up with budget constraints. The Kaiser study says twenty-nine states are considering further reductions or have already made them since the current fiscal year began.

Admin Criticizes Insurer Profits, Rising Premiums

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has issued a new report criticizing insurers for increasing the cost of medical care while pulling in record profits. On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed the rising costs of insurance premiums across the United States.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “In this last year alone, the largest insurance company in Michigan requested a 56 percent rate hike. In Connecticut, it was 24 percent. In Oregon, we saw a 20 percent rate hike being requested. Maine, it was 18.5 percent last year, which was actually denied, and this year they’ve come back and asked for a 23 percent rate hike. And most recently, which has gotten a lot of attention, is the WellPoint Anthem request for a 39 percent rate hike, which would affect 800,000 of their individual market customers.”

Sebelius went on to contrast the increasing costs with record insurance industry profits last year.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “The five largest insurers in America have declared more than $12 billion worth of profits in 2009. WellPoint alone posted a $2.7 billion profit in the fourth quarter of 2009, just a week before they filed for a 39 percent rate increase.”

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