One challenge for self-employed people is gaining access to health insurance without an employer to negotiate fair rates on our behalf. Therefore, we have to choose between no coverage, enrolling in DirigoHealth (currently at maximum capacity), or taking a chance on whatever Anthem will offer us.
Between the years 2004 and 2007, Anthem’s profits grew 89.2 percent, while membership increased 2.4 percent. Most of that profit is from increased premiums, such as the 23 percent rate hike Anthem proposed for Maine policyholders in January 2010. Beyond that, they have the nerve to sue the people of Maine for a guaranteed net profit to which Anthem believes it is entitled. It’s no wonder that Anthem has been a major opponent of national heath care reform efforts, spending millions of dollars to scare Americans out of supporting the change they voted for in 2008.
If even the most basic reforms in the health care legislation were enacted, the consumer protections we have in Maine would be the national standard and level the playing field for insurance companies from state to state. This would help to increase competition and give the consumer more reasonable options.
What would be even better is if consumers didn’t have to deal with Anthem at all and buy into a public health insurance plan. Without single-payer or a public option, we will continuously be at the mercy of greedy for-profit agencies that drain our personal incomes dry, even in the hard economic times we face today.
Craig Saddlemire, Lewiston