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Blue Cross Member Finds Ad Hard to Stomach

August 29, 2004

The puff ad by Blue Cross parent WellPoint Health Networks Inc. touting the "great benefit" to California from its takeover by Anthem Inc. is nauseating ("Nice Try, WellPoint, but Ad Doesn't Stand Up to Scrutiny," Golden State, Aug. 12).

Blue Cross started its downhill slide when WellPoint converted it from a nonprofit to a for-profit insurance company and began rapidly increasing health insurance premiums.

As a Blue Cross member on a Medigap policy for more than 16 years (I'm 81), I've seen my annual premiums for this insurance (covering mainly the portion that Medicare doesn't cover) increase from $1,956 in 1993 to $5,400 in 2004, with the biggest increase from $3,420 in 2000 to $5,400 in 2004.

With the obscene stock and severance bonuses for WellPoint executives in this pending takeover (up to $600 million), it appears that leading up to this transaction, Blue Cross executive insiders intentionally maxed out premiums, embarking on a self-serving program to increase Blue Cross' apparent value as a potential takeover target.

That's not unlike the recent examples of the greedy looters in certain communications, cable and energy corporations.

George V. Hall

Manhattan Beach

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