Only in the insurance industry can a business secure a $500 million-dollar profit and demand that consumers pay more.
According to a September 1 article published in North Carolina News, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) received approval to increase their premiums by 7.2% this upcoming year.
And while 7.2% doesn’t seem like a whole lot, in 2022 the statewide rate increase was just 2.8%. So why the big jump?
As far as we can tell, the request seems basically rubberstamped on arrival. We can’t say for sure, but it certainly doesn’t seem like North Carolina is taking Connecticut Attorney General William Tong’s approach to ensuring insurance costs are reasonable.
As vocal as NC State Treasurer Dale Folwell is about healthcare costs, it’s striking to us he hasn’t defended his beloved state health plan from this increase, since BCBSNC is the Third Party Administrator (TPA) of the plan. But given his seemingly close relationship with BCBSNC and their regular contributions to his campaign, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.
The official justification for such an increase? According to Dr. Tunde Sotunde, executive director and president of BCBSNC, “Inflation and rising medical costs.” (A really in-depth explanation there…)
If BCBSNC really is strapped for cash, they’re not showing it. From 2020 to 2021, the insurance giant’s revenue grew from $9.9 billion to $10.7 billion . . . during the COVID-19 pandemic. The year 2021 was extra kind to BCBSNC, too, as it made $569.3 million in profits — superseding its profits from the previous two years.
But none of these facts seems to matter to Big ‘Ole Blue.
“Our work over the past five years continues to show that working more closely with health professionals helps make health care more affordable for all North Carolina residents,” the company president said in a statement.
Oh really? Is this how you “work more closely with health professionals”? By decreasing provider reimbursements and increasing patient premiums, sucking the entire healthcare system dry while insurers like BCBSNC reap the benefit?
We admit, we’re a little outraged: The insurer’s 7.2% rate increase has the potential to impact the lives of 414,000 North Carolinians who have Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. So, what part of rate increases is “making health care more affordable for all North Carolina residents”?
And if we’re outraged, North Carolinians should be too. Because we’re pretty sure the ones who are actually on these plans would care to disagree.