It’s commonly known to psychologists that fear of change can make people lash out unreasonably. How else to explain the diatribe  against impending health reform legislation penned by NC Blue Cross CEO Bob Greczyn in the News and Observer yesterday? Of course, when a man with a $4 million salary at a nonprofit health insurer starts lecturing health reform “activists” on the real cost drivers in health care, it pays to bring out the truth-o-meter.
Greczyn’s main message is that health reform will mean higher premiums for individuals and businesses. He knows this because of a “highly respected” industry study. That would be the “highly respected” study paid for by the health insurers where the author, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, had to issue its own press release  the day after the study came out. Why? The insurers failed to mention that they asked PricewaterhouseCoopers to look at only four provisions of the health reform bill it studied and ignore cost control provisions, most notably the provisions that subsidize coverage for individuals and small businesses and strict new regulations on insurers.
Echoing many complaints, the NYT pointed  out that “Most analysts already agree that the industry’s report was so deliberately skewed to produce frightening results that it deserves little credence.”
In the end, when this report was released last month, it did little but embolden the advocates of reform and stir even more resentment at the health insurance industry. Some  political commentators made the argument it actual advanced health reform’s prospects. Greczyn’s use of this argument, yet again, would appear to be counterproductive. But that sort of reasoning hasn’t stopped Blue Cross from making mistake after mistake in its fight against health reform.
Finally, think about it. If Blue Cross is saying “we are going to raise your rates if America passes health reform,” isn’t this the best argument for a public health plan option to give at least some North Carolinians a choice to go somewhere else?