Here is my response:
Dear Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Who wants Federal government intervention in the private health insurance market? I do!
I want a public option. In fact, I want more than a public option--I want single-payer healthcare. Want it more than a kid wants candy at Halloween and presents at Christmas. Want it even more than I wanted a pony when I was 8.
Why? Because I think healthcare is a human right, and I don't think it should be a profit-making venture. Because I think insurance is nothing more than legalized extortion-and I'm tired of having my pockets picked, only to be told that you won't cover X,Y, or Z. Oh, and by the way...you're raising my premiums by nearly 30%.
You bill yourself as "nonprofit," which may make some gullible people think you are looking out for their best interests. But I know better. I've done my homework, and I've found the numbers:
- In 2008, you paid your top 9 executives a total of $13, 369,133 in salaries, bonuses, and other compensation. That averages to $1,485,459 per person. You gave your top execs raises that ranged from 20%-32% that year.
- According to the same regulatory filing, in 2008, you paid the 13 members of your Board of Directors a total of $494,459--an average of $38,035. Just for comparison, according to the U.S. Census bureau's most recent data (2005), the average salary for a family of 4 in North Carolina was $59,481. That means that a BCBSNC director made 64% of a NC family's YEARLY income for attending 5 meetings a year.
- You reported profits of $186 million in 2008---and raised our premiums in the worst economy in living memory. (I'm still trying to figure out how a "nonprofit" has profits....)
- You have a 72.5% market share of individual and employer-provided health insurance in North Carolina. That means, for many North Carolinians, you are the only game in town---the 800 lb. gorilla no one can ignore.
But you forgot one thing...I'm not a mindless FOX News drone and I'm not easily manipulated. I had been feeling tired and worn out with the whole healthcare debate--but your little mailing gave me an energy boost!
You see, I have my Senator's and Representative's phone numbers programmed into my phone. They both got calls today about the mailing you sent me. I doubt you'll be happy about what I said.
And that postage-paid postcard you wanted me to send to Senator Kay Hagan? The one that asked her to "please oppose government-run health insurance" because it would allow the government to compete "unfairly" with the private sector? I crossed out your message and wrote her asking her to support a true public option.
It gave me great satisfaction to know that you'll be paying a few cents of the money you have extorted from me over the years to lobby against YOUR best interests. It also gave me great pleasure to discover that I'm not alone, and that others are taking action too.
We take our victories where we find them.
UPDATE: The story made the front page of our local newspaper today (October 28), and I"m not the only one who's pissed! You can read about it here. One wag taped the card to a brick! Since the mail hasn't gone out yet, I'm going to see if I can do something similar. ;-)
UPDATE #2: Check out my follow-up post.