Man Arrested For Asking Anthem Blue Cross/Shield About His Rate Increase

It gets more unbelievable by the day, doesn't it?

Joe Szakos leads the Virginia Organizing Project, an almost fifteen year-old community organization that Health Care for America Now works with in Virginia to organize for health care reform. Szakos's organization employs dozens of people, and they get their health care through Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

This year, Szakos was informed that Anthem was going to increase the premiums on Virginia Organizing Project's health plan by 14.1%. Around the same time, the Virginia Organizing Project received an email from Anthem:

We strongly support reform that builds a strong, sustainable private-sector health care system - and strongly oppose creating a government-run health plan. We are urging our elected officials in Washington to take bipartisan action that will accomplish that. We are educating policymakers in Washington and working with our trade associations to encourage Congress to build on the current system and not disrupt the quality, affordable coverage on which our members depend....

As our elected officials debate health care, they need to hear directly from you.

Szakos immediately had some questions for Anthem. Chief among them, why is Anthem using its resources to lobby against health care reform with a public health insurance option while at the same time increasing rates by 14.1%?

Szakos, along with three other Virginia Organizing Project board members, went down to Anthem's offices in Richmond, VA to ask. He left in handcuffs.

Szakos, a customer, couldn't get an answer from Anthem. There was no justification for raising rates on one hand, and spending money lobbying against health care reform on the other. And instead of trying to offer Szakos an explanation, they had him arrested.

As Szakos said in the video, this is about greed and force. There is no good explanation for these rate increases, and there is no justification for Anthem to spend money it collects in premiums from customers suffering under its "health care" plans on lobbying against reform that would help these very same people. The only thing motivating Anthem - and all insurance companies - is greed. And they get and keep their money by force.

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