August 4, 2023

There's more than one boogeyman

While a whole bloc of retirees are fighting tooth and nail against the new Aetna PPO, I want to take a moment to say something about the company Senior Care uses to supplement Medicare Part A:  Empire BlueCross BlueShield.

Its name is changing on January 1st to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. You can see it in the banner on its webpage

Does that mean it will convert to a for-profit company? Because Anthem became publicly traded in 2001.

Fast forward to February 2022 when Ednotes reported that in spite of a lawsuit still pending against Anthem for fraudulent practices, NYC chose that company to to provide its workers with healthcare coverage.

A few months after that, Anthem shareholders rebranded the company to Elevance Health. Its CEO, Gail Boudreaux, is quoted to have said “this change is the next important chapter in our journey, and better reflects our business and the company we are today.”

For that kind of pap she earned big bucks that year: $20,931,081, according to this report. It included $1.6 million in salary, $3,840,000 in non-equity incentive plan compensation, $11,100,128 in stock awards, $3,699,929 in option rewards, and $691,024 for all other compensation, whatever that was but I’m sure it wasn’t ham sandwiches at the local deli.

The for-profit / not-for-profit debate is getting to be ridiculous. Why one website lists Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in the publicly traded column and another says it’s not-for-profit is beyond comprehension. This one and this one cleverly avoid saying one way or the other. 

I can understand when retirees demand that the city follow legislative codes stipulating what it has to pay for our coverage.

I can understand their anger against middlemen insurance companies soaking up Medicare funds, denying or delaying coverage, juicing up profits, and seeing all of us as consumers rather than patients. I’m angry about all that as well.

What I can’t understand is why people see Aetna as the only boogeyman on the scene, when for-profit insurance companies or their counterparts have been part of our healthcare landscape for years. If it’s not CVS Health/Aetna, it’s still Empire/Anthem/Elevance Health, and it’s still CVS Caremark/SilverScript.

And they’re not the only ones. The chart on the left shows the top Medtech salaries in 2020 (from here) – look at Helmy’s.  $113.9 million!   The one on the right the top Pharma salaries in 2021 (from here) - look at Ari’s. It’s a lot more than Gail’s.

We have to focus our wrath on the lot of them, not just Aetna, Aetna, Aetna.

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