BCBS of Alabama Executive Pay Reeks of Rotten

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Update 1/14/17

I felt the comment below was important enough to bring it to the top of my story as an update, because, as I’ve said many times, sometimes people do not read the comments. It also remains in the comment section.

Our cowardly legislators who passed the bill allowing the pay of executives to be kept secret should be flogged forty times with a whip.  Do you think the money that BCBS contributed to the campaign funds of these legislators will ever be revealed?  You must be kidding.

Add0611 I’m spending $40,000 on a mental health treatment center for my son blue cross will pay nothing because they will only let you go to Bradford which is an Awful place. Our premiums for our family of four are $2,000 per month. Now the executive are getting rich while we are fighting for our child’s life. There is something wrong here. Greed greed. I used to be friends with one of the execs wife but when my child started having problems she dropped us. Greed is a very sad truth.

Original Story Published 2/23/16

Mark Fowler, an attorney in the Alabama Insurance Department, can’t tell me how much executives at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama  are paid. It’s against the law.

The Alabama Legislature passed a law that all insurance companies execs’ pay, bonuses or other compensation would no longer be public information. What?

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is a non-profit organization whose customers are the public and the public can no longer know what their executives are paid. Have I just entered Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone”?

I had the next logical question for Mark, and that was, “Okay, tell me what the Blue Cross Blue Shield executives made when the information was public.” Nope, he can’t do that. It’s against the law. The secrecy is retroactive. What, again?

Fortunately Mike Oliver of al.com had done some snooping before all of this public information became secretive, before that unlawful law was passed.

From 2011 to 2013, the executive pay for 10 of the BCBS executives doubled collectively, which means not every one of them saw their pay exactly double, but still had a healthy increase.

Terry D Kellogg, the President and CEO of BCBS saw his salary, bonus, and other compensation go from $2.47 mill in 2011 to $4.84 mil in 2013, a meager 95.5% increase.

What was his compensation in 2014 and 2015? I have no idea. The law, you know, says I can’t know. And the other nine execs who were in excess of a mil in 2013, what were they paid in 2014 and 2015? I wish I knew. Time for a joke here, folks. They took a pay cut. Like when Hell freezes over. Maybe some more execs climbed on the million dollar express? Maybe Kellogg’s pay doubled again to $9.68 mil, well went up another 95.5%? Can’t get too greedy here.  Maybe he needs to buy a yacht? How should I know?

We don’t want Kellogg or the other nine execs deprived of some of the basic necessities of life like some of the BCBS customers who are trying to figure out how to pay their premiums and have money left over at the end of the month for food.

Last time I checked 2011 and 2013 preceded 2014, but this is what Koko Mackin wrote in 2014. She is the spokeswoman for BCBS and wrote to Mike Oliver of al.com in an e-mail. If you don’t believe the following, you are not alone. I didn’t believe it either.

“Executive compensation is not a factor in determining health insurance premiums. Beginning in 2014 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Obamacare) substantially changed the way insurers could design health plans and calculate premiums, causing many of our customers’ premiums to increase.”

I wish I was smart enough to figure this out. BCBS doubled the pay for ten execs from 2011 and 2013, and then in 2014 when customers’ premiums went up nobody could say the execs’ pay increase had anything to do with the premiums increase because the execs’ pay increased the year before the premiums increased. I wish I had not made straight A’s in math in school.  It would be so much easier to not understand this.

Let me put my spin on this. BCBS customers you have been shafted. Winding its way up the scale to this year, 2016, the premiums for BCBS C-Plus increased by 2%. The premium for the BCBS drug plan increased 24.7%. I’m glad exec pay had nothing to do with that. And considering that senior citizens didn’t get a cost-of-living adjustment this year, that money comes directly from what they tried to live on last year.

In the meanwhile, we commoners must plod along while the exalted pursue their trade and compensation. That sounds almost like the medieval feudal system, doesn’t it?

I think of the times I have looked at what seems to be diminishing BCBS compensation to doctors and hospitals, or other commoners like my wife and I and they have told me of BCBS payments to doctors and hospitals for them, and wonder at what point those same doctors and hospitals will no longer see us commoners because what they are paid is so meager.

I also recount the times that my wife and her doctor had running battles with BCBS because they did not want to pay for a trade name acid reflux medicine for my wife when the generic would not work (She tried it three times). Then BCBS finally said they would only pay for the time-release brand name which did not work. (She tried that twice). This forced us to go elsewhere for this medication. And I think of the fact they will not now pay for her brand name Celebrex because the generic does not work (she tried that as well). That’s worth repeating. They will not pay for the brand name.

And I think of the $4.84 mil that the President and CEO of BCBS was paid in 2013, And no telling how much now, and I have decided I had rather be an exalted and not a commoner. Does anyone have any idea how I can do that?

But wait, I am not finished with the astounding revelations. Mark Fowler, the fellow I mentioned at the beginning of this story, the fellow who returned my call, and at the end of our conversation said he had told me all the law would allow him to tell me, didn’t mention one word about something he knew a lot about.

This comes from al.com in September of 2015. It appears to be a direct quote from Mark Fowler but carries no quote marks. Officials with the Alabama Department of Insurance sought the change during the regular legislative session – in an effort to comply with the requirements of an organization that accredits insurance regulators, said Chief of Staff Mark Fowler.

Mark, were you being totally forthright when you said you had told me all the law would allow you to tell me, and you didn’t tell me about this? Your own department wanted this law passed?

Mark, if you think I believe that the agency that accredits insurance companies, and A. M. Best, the company that rates insurance companies, have told you and the rest of the Alabama Insurance Department that disclosing the executives’ pay of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama to the public who are their customers has anything to do with the BCBS accreditation or credit rating, then you will certainly believe that I plan to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain in July this year, provided Medicare/BCBS C Plus will pay for my medical flight there and back.

 

 

2 comments

  • I’m spending $40,000 on a mental health treatment center for my son blue cross will pay nothing because they will only let you go to Bradford which is an Awful place. Our premiums for our family of four are $2,000 per month. Now the executive are getting rich while we are fighting for our child’s life. There is something wrong here. Greed greed. I used to be friends with one of the execs wife but when my child started having problems she dropped us. Greed is a very sad truth.

  • You have no idea how very much this story hits home for me!

    For almost 2 years I have been fighting with BCBS of South Carolina to approve much needed back surgery that I desperately need if I am ever to have a normal, pain free life again. I realize that when most people hear “back pain” they all too often make the mistake of assuming that someone is looking to score pain medication or get some big disability pay day. I assure you, that couldn’t be further from the truth in my case.

    I have 3 completely ruptured discs, with severe nerve damage in my leg and foot because the nerves are now trapped between my collapsed vertebrae. I literally have no medical training or experience reading MRIs or Xrays, yet I do not need it to see perfectly that my vertebrae are laying, not in a perfectly aligned position, but on top of each other and leaning toward my pelvis.

    BCBS of South Carolina claims my surgery is not necessary, and get this, if I had only 1 ruptured disc they would pay for it. That makes no sense to me. Perhaps the execs in South Carolina are also making millions by denying life changing services and medications. Even my neurosurgeon has been fighting an uphill battle to get me approved for surgery, to no avail. He is amazing and won’t stop fighting for me.

    I am 51 years old, not in my 60s or 70s, and I can barely walk. My mother is currently under going chemo and radiation treatment for cancer, and I can barely take care of her, but I will not let them win!

    I would wish the execs suffered the same fate they wantonly force on those paying their salaries, but if they were denied needed treatments, they could easily pay cash (although I am sure BCBS would never deny them the surgery I require), as could I.

    Thank you for pointing out the injustice of it all. I will be looking into the practices of BCBS of South Carolina and definitely making a nuisance of myself by publicizing their practices here, as well. My premiums for myself alone are almost $600 a month, I wonder how much our execs make?