BREAKING: Blue Cross trying to kill key plank of Obama health care plan

Well that didn’t take long. Wasn’t it just last week that the health insurance lobby pledged to work with President Obama to help rein in health care costs, as part of the overall health care reform effort? And now, just seven days later, Blue Cross insurance is going all out to kill a major plank in Obama’s health care reform plan.

You’ll recall that Blue Cross is the “insurance” that Joe and I both have. Joe’s insurance just went up 25% this year. That’s about how much mine has been going up for a few years now as well. As I’ve written before, funny, but Blue Cross’ benefits don’t go up that much each year. In fact, Blue Cross caps my prescription drug benefits at the same level they were at 14 years ago. In another decade I should be able to buy a Frappuccino with the value of my Blue Cross prescription drug benefits, after inflation. Blue Cross is the worst. Well, not the worst. They all stink. I remember my friend Michael, who had an HMO at the time, and was working on health care issues on the Hill, being told that he couldn’t go to the emergency room, even though he was having trouble seeing in one eye that was scratched and now swelling shut, because all the folks at his HMO were at lunch. Seriously. They told him they were at lunch and he should call back later to see if he would be permitted to go the emergency room.

I remember how Blue Cross tried to screw my dying Spanish teacher in Chicago, Fernando Mendoza, and then tried to screw his wife after he died.

I remember how I tried to cut back on my health care expenses by buying drugs online, by buying generics, only to have Blue Cross make the process so impossibly hard, only to have Blue Cross’s own staff be so totally incompetent, only to have Blue Cross refuse to let me use my insurance to purchase cheaper drugs online from Costco (supposedly because Blue Cross has a more-costly sweetheart deal with Walgreens).


And now Blue Cross is trying to kill the provision of Obama’s plan that would give us the option to buy into some kind of public health care program. Why? So they can ensure that all of us still have to pay for their lousy insurance, so they can continue to milk us dry with 25% annual premium increases, so they can continue to let your prescription drug benefits wither away with the years.

Honestly, the government should look into regulating Blue Cross and its brethren as posing a danger to public health. We ought to be having a debate as to whether the government shuts down Blue Cross, or takes over its management, rather than whether Blue Cross gets the option to kill our only hope at getting real health care.

One final word. Blue Cross wants to play the socialism card, which is exactly what its new ads are doing sotto voce. They want to suggest that government involvement in health care is bad, like in Europe, as Blue Cross’ Republican friends keep telling us? Okay, let’s talk about health care in Europe. Let’s talk about why France is number one in health care in the world. About how I went to the doctor to check on a chest cold I’d had for six weeks. About how I saw the doctor within 12 hours of requesting the appointment. About how my appointment cost me only 30 bucks. About how she told me I needed a chest X-Ray. About how I was able to make the appointment for the X-Ray four hours from when I called. About how I arrived and they had me in the X-Ray in three minutes after I arrived. About how in 15 minutes the doctor was diagnosing me. About how in 20 minutes, I walked out the door, X-Rays and diagnosis in hand, having paid only 40 euros (50 bucks) or so for the entire thing. About how the chest x-ray in the states would have cost me $400, and certainly wouldn’t have happened four hours after I called, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be permitted to waltz into the office and get the X-Ray three minutes after arriving.

Let’s talk about how I called Blue Cross to find out if they’d cover my chest X-Ray – this was before I knew it was so cheap, the French doctor told me it was going to be “expensive.” I spent almost half an hour on the phone with some idiot at Blue Cross – I was calling her from Paris, mind you – who could not figure out if they would cover my stupid chest X-Ray while I was in France. Nice lady, but a blithering idiot. I finally gave up, after nearly half an hour, and figured I’d take my chances and just pay the bill anyway – better option than getting pneumonia.

I’ve been through American health care. I’ve done my time at Georgetown Hospital (truly a horror show). I’m only 45 years old and I already have enough minor health care problems that Blue Cross cut my prescription coverage off last year at the beginning of November. God forbid if I live another ten, fifteen years. What new ways will Blue Cross find to torture me then?

America can’t afford to have people like Blue Cross deciding if we live or die. Enough is enough. If these pigs are going to try to Harry and Louise health care reform again, then the groups running this battle, and the administration, need to take Blue Cross down. It’s time to stop playing nice. It’s time to stop doing what Washington politicians and Washington non-profits always do. It’s time to play hardball. Blue Cross and its ilk either need to help us pass this legislation, or we need to take them down, hard.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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