Blue Cross to charge billing fees

It’s not enough that the U.S. health care system is already a major cluster you-know-what that over-charges millions, especially in California. Now Blue Cross reportedly wants to charge hundreds of thousands of Californians a $2 service fee every month to have their bills mailed to them.

Of the 7.5 million customers Blue Cross insures, 820,000 of them are Californians. Nick Garcia, Blue Cross of California spokesman, said the fees will be introduced in September. “Business costs don’t stay stagnant. “There have been increases in postage and paper costs” he said.

Part of the philosophy behind charging people is to get them to turn to electronic billing. It’ll be interesting to see how much more money they’ll make when they start selling your personal information and violating your privacy.

Health Net charges their 100,000 California members $5 a month in an effort to get them to switch to electronic billing as well. Switching to electronic billing eliminates the paper trail which is sometimes vital for record keeping.

According to Garcia, Blue Cross of California doesn’t disclose profits on a statewide basis, but WellPoint Health Networks, their parent company, reported a profit of $783.1 million in the first 3 months of the year. 16 percent higher than the previous year.

Now imagine that the 820,000 Californians paid the $2 fee. That would amount to over $1.5 million a month, or almost $20 million a year. Postage and paper costs haven’t risen that much. Blue Cross is reportedly expecting 85 percent of California policy holders to switch to electronic billing.

Even if 85 percent switched to electronic billing, that would still amount to almost a quarter of a million dollars a month or almost $3 million a year.

As you can guess, most Californians aren’t happy about these extortionistic tactics by health insurance companies. Health insurance companies aren’t the only ones charging you to mail you bills. Verizon and Earthlink also charge a fee for mailing you your statements.

Legislation will be introduced by state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata of Oakland that will make it illegal to charge people who want to pay and receive their bills by mail.

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