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Barbara Morales Burke refuses to answer question about Blue Cross market share

imagesBurke is a former insurance regulator who sold out to Blue Cross and now pushes the company line. In almost every interview she hesitates and stammers a great deal. I like to think it’s because she can barely force the misrepresentations out of her mouth.

One particularly entertaining interview was with Rick Martinez on WPTF. Martinez is a right-winger and probably did not mean to stump Burke. But stump her he did with this seemingly simple question:

What’s your market share?

Burke hesitates and then spends a huge amount of time verbally veering this way and that before flatly refusing to give an answer. You should listen, but here’s a transcript of her comment:

We are, uh, absolutely the leading health insurer in terms of covered lives in this state. You know it’s hard to give a, one number on market share because depending on whether, you know, which segment you’re looking at, whether your doing it on total population or, or different ways of calculating it. So I can’t give you a number.

Luckily, the Department of Insurance, where Burke used to work, does keep track of market share. And it seems pretty simple really. Burke can find the DOI numbers here and here.

7 Comments


  1. Adam Searing

    November 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    It’s 96.8% of the individual market!

  2. Something Clever

    November 13, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Just heard a presentation by Blue Cross and the person claimed the BCBSNC had 65% to 80% market share depending on how things were categorized. Accuracy unknown, but that was the statement made.

    I’ll take the Sherman Anti-Trust Act for $1000 next please, Alex.

  3. TPovio

    November 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Well, the 2 previous commenters have just shown why the question was vague. What market(s) were in question, individual, small group, etc.? There is no meaninful answer to the question, “What’s your market share?”

  4. AdamL

    November 20, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Actually it’s pretty simple. She could say, “In the individual market we have a virtual monopoly. In the overall market we have about 75 percent.”

    Not too vague.

    She also knows these numbers off the top of her head and used to rattle them off when she was a regulator. It’s only since she joined Blue Cross that the question has become complicated.

  5. TPovio

    November 21, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    The interviewers question was not, however, what share of the individual market BCBSNC has. It was, “What’s your market share?” Speaking as a scientist, I wouldn’t answer that question in the way you suggested. The question was vague.

  6. AdamL

    November 23, 2009 at 8:52 am

    It’s nice of you to defend her but it’s pretty clear that “What’s your market share?” means “What’s your overall market share?”.

    The answer is about 75 percent. Again, Burke used to answer this question in a quick and straightforward way when she was a regulator. It only got complicated when she joined Blue Cross.

  7. TPovio

    November 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Interseting that you jump to any conclusion of “defense.” For the record, I’m in favor of a public option and government sponsored reform. No, it isn’t clear that, “What’s your market share?” means “What’s your overall market share?” It’s an imprecise question that yields an imprecise answer.

    If, as one commenter posted, BCBS holds a 98.6% share of the individual market, then saying, “It’s about 75%.” is highly inaccurate. A 20+ percentage point difference is enormous and in no way represents a “straightforward” answer. In fact, I’d say that it would be a disingenuous and answer that misrepsents the truth.

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