Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BCBS of Michigan Could use a little Bailing Out

Michigan’s Largest Health Insurer Sings Financial Blues

Detroit’s auto makers aren’t the only ones in Michigan seeking the government’s helping hand. The beleaguered state’s largest health insurer is looking for financial relief too.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan wants state lawmakers to give it more leeway over how much it can charge for health insurance to offset losses the not-for-profit insurer says it has racked up as the state’s insurer of last resort, writes the WSJ this morning.

The proposal hasn’t gone down well with for-profit insurers and consumer groups, who claim BCBS of Michigan is exaggerating its financial problems.

Rival insurers don’t like a provision that would require them to pay a penalty for rejecting sick consumers who wind up with Blue Cross. Blue Cross isn’t taking that criticism lying down. “They don’t want to see Michigan change because they know it’s the last free ride,” Blue Cross’ Hetzel told the paper.

Meanwhile, consumer groups fear any future premiums hikes could boost the ranks of the uninsured.

State lawmakers are hammering out a final version of the bill. A vote could come later this week.

From the Wall Street Journal

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