San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage

Voices for Reform
Working Together Towards a Healthier Community


March 4, 2010


San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage (SDHCC) is a diverse coalition of community members committed to the common goal of advocating for affordable coverage and care for all through education, convening of the community and advocacy efforts. Voices for Reform is distributed weekly to inform and advocate for Health Reform.



 This Week in Healthcare

Local business owner sees health insurance premium jump of 58%
About a week before President Barack Obama’s summit on health care in Washington, D.C., Robert Metz, the owner of San Diego’s Voice and Video Sales, was sorting through his mail when he noticed a letter from his health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross of California.

Metz was prepared for bad news. Blue Cross had already fallen into the public spotlight by announcing its intention to raise standard policies by as much as 39 percent. But the jump in Metz’s bill was far beyond what he imagined. His premiums jumped not 38 but 58 percent, from an annual cost of $14,148 to $22,404.  (Dean, Calbreath, San Diego Union, 2/28/2010).
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Consumers who buy individual health policies feel trapped
Health insurers across the country are dramatically increasing rates and slashing benefits for many of the estimated 17 million consumers with individual insurance policies, while making it almost impossible to obtain affordable alternatives.  The problems have captured national attention as President Obama steps up his campaign in Washington for a healthcare overhaul and Congress investigates rate hikes of as much as 39% by Anthem Blue Cross in California.

A handful of states, including New York and New Jersey, do not allow insurers to cherry-pick customers. In such states -- and under health reform proposals pending in Congress -- insurers are required to sell policies to all buyers, regardless of preexisting conditions. In addition, the national reform bills would bar insurers from charging more because of health problems.

That would be welcome news to Kathy Klossner, 50, of San Diego County, who makes a point of visiting the doctor as seldom as possible for fear of tarnishing her medical record.

Klossner's insurer, Woodland Hills-based Health Net, notified her in January that her insurance premium would rise 35%, to $372 a month from $276. Concerned about losing insurance and eager to lower her premium, Klossner is increasing her deductible to $4,800 from $3,600. She sees her insurance as a hedge against catastrophic illness.

"I'm very scared to go to the doctor for anything," she said. "I'm just so frustrated."

Appeared in the Los Angeles Times on February 19, 2010.
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Over 5 people will die each week in San Diego if health reform does not pass
According to a new report from Families USA, California can expect 34,600 uninsured Californians to die over the next ten years without health reform.  In San Diego, this equates to more than 5 people per week – and these are avoidable deaths that will occur because of lack of health insurance.
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Small Business California’s 6th Annual Survey Results
Small Business California’s 6th Annual Survey ranks the economy, health care and public education as small business’ three highest priorities.  Over 2700 businesses responded.


Small Businesses Applaud Efforts to Move Forward at Healthcare Summit
Statement by John Arensmeyer, CEO, Small Business Majority
We were pleased to hear lawmakers express their strong support for small businesses during today’s bipartisan healthcare summit. However, the time for talking is over. It’s time to take action and pass reform legislation now. Small businesses continue to be crushed under our broken system. Millions of self-employed people and small business owners have been notified recently of double and even triple-digit increases to their premiums—making it more important than ever that legislators help small businesses get the relief they desperately need.

Small businesses will help dig the country out of the recession and restore the economic stability the nation needs—but they can’t do it without healthcare reform. They need insurance reform, including the elimination of preexisting condition rules. They need tax credits to help provide coverage for their employees. They need a health insurance exchange that will provide small businesses the leverage they need to remain competitive, and they need strong cost containment measures to make coverage more affordable. We were pleased to see provisions in the president’s plan—including stronger small business tax credits, more robust individual tax credits, increased cost containment through strengthened waste, fraud and abuse regulations and better monitoring of insurance rate increases—that will further support small businesses.

More and more small businesses will be priced out of insurance under the current system. More than 60 percent of businesses with fewer than 10 employees no longer offer insurance, and 28 percent of the 22 million self-employed Americans can’t afford insurance at all. Economic research we commissioned shows that without reform, the future looks even bleaker: Small businesses will pay $2.4 trillion in healthcare costs over the next 10 years, and $834 billion in small business wages will be lost due to these costs. The status quo just isn’t an option. We’re pleased to see that Congress acknowledged this today and is committed to moving forward with this much-needed legislation.  (Small Business Majority is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded and run by small business owners and focused on solving the biggest problem facing small businesses today: the skyrocketing cost of health coverage. 
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What do we need health insurers for anyway?
In an LA Times article by Michael Hiltzik on February 28, he described testimony by Angela Braly, CEO of Wellpoint (Blue Cross’ parent company) before a Congressional subcommittee in which she “assured the subcommittee that even with the latest California rate increases, "a 40-year-old woman in Los Angeles can obtain coverage with a $1,500 deductible for as low as $156 per month." 

Mr. Hiltzik went on to discuss what would be covered and at what cost with this plan:  “  She didn't specify what kind of coverage. So let's check out what her company offers. Leaving aside whether that 40-year-old woman might have a preexisting condition that would drive up her premium or make her uninsurable -- anything from diabetes to a history of hay fever -- the insurer's California package with a $1,500 deductible requires the customer to pay up to 70% of the cost of "covered services," including routine mammograms and Pap tests, plus as much as $500 a day for hospital stays.  Maternity isn't covered at all, so our 40-year-old Angelena better have gotten her lifetime childbearing out of the way before picking up the phone to sign up.”
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