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The BS Blue Cross Wants You to Believe

[1]The videos featuring desperate mothers trying to find health care in the “government plan” didn’t make it into the final picture, but the message is the same. NC Blue Cross launched its website [2]against health reform this week and it contains exactly the same message as in the pulled videos – “government run plan” bad, private health insurance good.

Read BC’s principles for reform and you’d think you were listening to President Obama during the campaign when he talked about health reform. Obama said – again and again – we want to build on the current system of employer-based health insurance, we want people to keep the coverage they have if they like it, we need to control costs and improve preventive care and lifestyles, and everyone needs to be able to have an insurance option they can afford.

BCBSNC’s principles track Obama’s. No surprise. There’s a reason Obama won the election when he talked about health reform. Those changes in health care sounded pretty good to millions of Americans. BCBS wants to piggyback on to that success.

Like any group of nonprofit executives making tens of millions in salary off the way the system is set up right now though, they want to make sure any “change” puts more cash into their pockets, not less. That’s why the Blue Cross message on reform is so subtle and oh-so-clever. They pretend they really want reform like Obama talked about, but what they really want is to make the system either (1) stay the same so they can keep getting rich off the hard work of millions of North Carolinians or (2) change so they can make even more money.

How? Confuse the issue for people. Say BCBSNC is for “reform” but against a “government solution.” Scare the public into thinking that a “government solution” means a single-payer system. Here’s a direct BCBSNC quote:

We share many of the same fundamental goals held by those seeking a government solution. The difference is that we think the best approach is to build on the system that works for more than 160 million Americans today, rather than simply start over.

Of course, there is no single-payer health reform proposal being seriously considered in Congress right now. All the proposals, all the discussion is about exactly what Obama has said it would be – building on the current health insurance system and giving people more affordablity and more choices about health coverage. Sure, a public health insurance option is on the table so people have a plan available if the private ones don’t work for them. Right now 1.5 million North Carolinians can’t buy private health insurance and a public option would be a welcome option for hundreds of thousands of people. Especially in rural areas where private plans could pull out at any time, a public option would be wonderful. It’s one more choice for people in the insurance market.

But BCBSNC is hoping that North Carolinians don’t look at the details of what reform is actually being discussed.

What is BCBSNC really scared of? They are scared of having to compete – on a level playing field – with a public health insurance option that doesn’t pay executives multi-million dollar salaries and has huge overhead costs. BCBSNC already is nearly a monopoly health insurer in North Carolina – they don’t have to really compete with anyone for the individual and small business market. If people had a real choice, BCBSNC would have to change. Executives know they’d have to get leaner, they might have to work for salaries in the hundreds of thousands instead of millions, and they might actually have to live up to some of their responsibilities as a nonprofit.

Fedex and UPS didn’t ask to put the US Postal Service out of business when they started operations. They just figured out how to deliver a good product and how to compete. Everyone won. Not NC Blue Cross. This nonprofit is taking your premium dollars and trying to defeat health reform so they won’t have to compete with anyone. North Carolinians shouldn’t stand for it.