What a difference a month makes: Just a few weeks ago, Cigna rejected Anthem as a suitor, citing things like the major data breach the company suffered earlier this year and turning down its $47 billion merger bid. It seems Anthem has been busy a-courtin’, as the company announced this morning that it’s reached a deal to buy Cigna for $54 billion, effectively creating an insurance giant.
After Anthem Inc. unveiled its roughly $47 billion bid to merge with fellow health insurer Cigna Corp. over the weekend, the object of its affections swiftly put the kibosh on that proposal. In a letter to Anthem’s board, Cigna said it was “deeply disappointed” with its suitors recent actions, and that the offer wasn’t in the best interest of shareholders.
Hurricane? What hurricane? Oh, Sandy? She was just a superstorm, say governors in states impacted by Sandy earlier this week. See, if she was a hurricane, homeowners would have to pay out anywhere from 1% to 5% of their homes’ values before insurance coverage would kick in. But if she wasn’t, as the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are saying, that deductible doesn’t have to be met. That will likely result in huge savings for homeowners. Nice. [More]
Emergency room bills bring a special sort of sticker shock, because they don’t usually show up until weeks later, and then come packed with all sorts of over-inflated fees and add-ons. The New York Times calls them “notoriously high and perplexing,” and although it’s unlikely you’ll ever end up paying the full amount listed on the bill, there are strategies you can use to bring that initial figure down.
Insurers have to maintain a safety net of money to protect themselves from unforeseen market conditions, but a new study from Consumers Union says that some Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers took it too far, preferring to focus exclusively on stockpiling cash at the expense of customers. Two of the worst cases have stockpiles 5 to 7 times higher than state solvency requirements, yet continue to hike premiums each year instead of using the, uh, surplus surplus to offset customer costs.
Kevin received a surprise when he checked the renewal notice for his car insurance recently. A 260 percent surprise, in fact, even though he’s not a bad driver and hadn’t been in any accidents.
Mike was sent to LabCorp for some routine medical tests last week, and what he found was an understaffed, overcrowded dump where patients were arguing that their urine samples were missing, or in one instance stolen while the patient watched. This could just be one badly managed lab, but the Internet is swimming in LabCorp complaints around the country that all repeat the same problems.
Alex is 24 years old and was laid off last year. He’s trying to sign up for a high-deductible health insurance plan from Humana One, but they’ve rejected him because he’s got a mess of health issues: “At my last checkup I mentioned occasional knee pain, occasional indigestion, and the fact that I experienced palpitations extremely rarely.” Or as Human describes it, “a medical history of bursitis, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, palpitations and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”
This summer Californians will be able to vote on Proposition 17, which if passed will allow insurers to bypass some legal restrictions on how much they can charge for auto insurance. Mercury Insurance Group is a big proponent of the proposition, but maybe that’s because it’s been possibly sidestepping the law in recent years anyway. Hey, making it legal will just prevent another state report like the one Carla Marinucci at the San Francisco Chronicle obtained, which contains findings that Mercury “has engaged in practices that may be illegal, including deceptive pricing and discrimination against consumers such as active members of the military and drivers of emergency vehicles.”
A woman in Philadelphia says her neighbor just laughs every time he sees her now, because his insurance company refused to pay a claim on her car that he hit. The company told her that the man won’t answer his phone, so there’s nothing they can do. Update: Right after I posted this, the OP emailed with an update. See the bottom of the post.
Senate Democrats have just hammered out a new version of their proposed health care reform proposal, and as a compromise they’ve removed the part about requiring a government-run insurance program. The public option is still part of the proposal, but now it will only be triggered if the private sector doesn’t create some new national nonprofit policies as spelled out by the government.
After our post yesterday ended up crashing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ consumer information website, we received an email from them. They said they wanted to explain how the site works to address some reader questions, as well as point out that you too can contribute to the rankings by filing complaints when your insurer does something objectionable.
So you suspect your health/auto/home insurer is run by the devil, but you’re not sure whether the alternative you’re considering is any better. Kiplinger Finance has posted a helpful article on how to find the complaint ratio of an insurer via the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website. Update: here’s how to file your own complaint.
Earlier this week, a Congressional investigation revealed that several insurance companies rely on a database from Ingenix that deliberately underestimates the cost of medical services, reports the Associated Press. The result is that “American consumers have paid billions of dollars for health care services that their insurance companies should have paid.”
Chris has to take the immunosuppressant drug Prograf because of a kidney transplant, and it costs nearly $300 for a one month supply. Yesterday, he found out that someone at CVS corporate has instructed his local pharmacist to start billing him directly, apparently because his secondary insurer hasn’t been paying for nearly two years.
AIG needs its money for its own problems, people, and doesn’t want to have to share with insurance claimants! That’s why they’ve fought every request from John Woodson, a man who lost a leg, an eye, and 70% of the vision in the remaining eye while working as a contractor in Iraq. He told ABC News, “You constantly are worried about who is going to pay these bills, who is going to take care of me? Because you can’t rely on AIG to come through for you. I don’t understand how a company of their size and their magnitude, with government bailouts and money and support, I don’t understand their not taking care of the individuals that were injured.”