When is a nonprofit health insurer just another greedy insurance company?

Finally someone calls out a BlueCross BlueShield licensee for what it is: a business operating under the protection of nonprofit status, rather than a true nonprofit health insurer.  Admittedly the Nonprofiteer has a dog in this fight, having been insured by the selfsame licensee, Health Care Services Corporation, until it discontinued her PPO policy and tried to herd her into an HMO distinguished primarily by its lack of access to the best hospitals in Chicago.

But the Nonprofit Quarterly reports something far more serious: the company's decision to dump poor policyholders rather than use its reserves to assist their transition to ACA coverage.  Though mutual benefit associations like BlueCross are designed to spread both risk and profit among its members, HCSC instead directs its profits to executive compensation while leaving its policyholders out of luck--and out of coverage.

There are people who want to blame "Obamacare" for the recent rise in some health care premiums, but let's be clear: it's the private insurers who are overtaxing the system, not the patients or the doctors or the government.  And calling them "nonprofit" does violence to the language, not to mention the health care system.


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    The Nonprofiteer is Kelly Kleiman, principal of NFP Consulting, which provides Board development, strategic planning and fund-raising services to charities and philanthropies. Through her consulting practice and in her guise as The Nonprofiteer, Kelly has spent the past 25-plus years helping small and mid-sized nonprofits organize themselves better and raise more money. These days she focuses especially on helping them use high-skill volunteers. Kelly is also a lawyer and freelance journalist whose reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and other dailies; in magazines including In These Times and Chicago Philanthropy; in the alternative press; on websites including the Huffington Post; and on the radio, including the BBC and WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. She and her fellow "Dueling Critic" Jonathan Abarbanel present a weekly podcast of their reviews of Chicago theater at DuelingCritics.net. Earlier in her career she was dean of admissions of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and Executive Director of the Chicago Children’s Choir, and practiced real estate and zoning law with the firm of Rudnick & Wolfe. Kelly holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago. She was a founding Board member of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits and also served for 5 years on the Board of the Association for Women Journalists–Chicago. She can be reached ("Dear Nonprofiteer . . .") at KellyNFP@yahoo.com.

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