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Anthem, like all insurers, needs to be reined in
Anthem, like all insurers, needs to be reined in

Date published: 2/14/2005

I would like to respond to the letter from Melissa Hauser ["Anthem does care about community and subscribers," Feb. 8].

While her letter is a great sound bite for Anthem, it reeks of propaganda and has little relevance to the discussions that have taken place in this forum in recent months.

Anthem (and insurers, period) don't actually provide a tangible product. They accept money from individuals and governments on the promise that they will then pay health expenses. There's no actual product. In Anthem's case, they have increased premiums across the board, pay Virginia doctors as little as they can get away with, and keep the rest for themselves and their executives.

Anthem made $295 million profit in the first quarter of 2004. This is $100 million more than the year before. Compare Anthem CEO Larry Glasscock's "performance bonus" of $42.5 million in 2002 (working no nights or weekends) to what your family doctor earns working 90 hours per week under Anthem's miserable payment schedule, and you can see why doctors arrive and then depart the Fredericksburg area constantly. My current location is a testament to this problem.

In this age of concern about health care and health insurance costs, who on earth would side with a monster like Anthem, which demonstrates such colossal greed? The answer is the Virginia State Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor and state Sen. John Chichester, a member of that committee.

Doctors were in favor of a bill that required Anthem to pay them directly, instead of misdirecting their payments to patients as a punishment for not accepting Anthem's excessively low payments. In situations where Anthem's payment did not match what the physician charged, the doctors wanted the option of billing the patient for the difference.

The Senate committee had the option of modifying the bill in any way they wanted, but they chose to throw their full support to Anthem, denying physicians the same legal protection that dentists in Virginia have had since 2000.

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