Letter to the Editor

Wellmark: do more than 'try' to hold down insurance cost

Friday, January 11, 2013

This was written in regard to a proposed 13% increase on health insurance policies being requested by Wellmark to the Iowa Insurance Commission:

It is totally obscene that the Iowa Insurance Commissioner is even considering allowing another massive increase in premiums by Wellmark. I have often heard complaints that the commission exists to support the insurance industry, not the citizens of this state. Also it is amusing that Wellmark Vice President, Laura Jackson, said that the company is "trying" to hold down cost increases for health care. Instead of just "trying," maybe they should actually do something about it. They could start by looking at their high administrative costs.

I totally agree with consumer, Lin Sorenson, who had the courage to speak up about the outrageous $1.3 million annual salary of company CEO, John Forsyth. I have not yet had the opportunity to meet the man, and I doubt that he would have time for a lowly person like me, but I would think that if he possessed any conscience at all, he would not be so selfish in demanding such excessive compensation when many of his customers are struggling to buy groceries and also afford paying high insurance premiums.

(As a side note, it is interesting that the latest edition of Scientific American Mind (January/February 2013) highlighted a recent British study on psychopathy in which "CEO" is listed as the most psychopathic profession.

For more details on the subject, I would recommend reading Without a Conscience and/or Snakes in Suits by psychopathy expert, Dr. Robert Hare.)

I am also skeptical about Wellmark's involvement with the Blue Zones project, which is probably just a total PR scam by a company that is "trying" to hold down costs. It is very annoying that they think spending money in a few select communities is fair to their customers who reside outside of those chosen areas.

They may justify this with imaginary motives of "trying" to encourage a small number of Iowans they deem worthy of their consideration to adopt healthier habits, however, I question their ability to do so in an economical way. A couple years ago I attended one of their informative meetings held around the state in which they spent excessive time and money introducing their sponsorship of the Blue Zones project. Many of their staff members were on hand passing out extremely expensive glossy colored brochures and they had brought in a keynote speaker from California, Dan Buettner, author of the Blue Zones book to tell the audience information we already knew and also present a few bogus "facts" we did not need to hear.

I hope that Susan Voss makes the moral choice to NOT allow Wellmark to increase premiums AGAIN, and she should also keep in mind that actuaries and statisticians can always skew data to get the results they desire. (Trust me - I have several family members in such occupations.)

P.S. As a Wellmark customer, I am very offended that they intend to punish me for being part of the obesity problem.