Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Karen Weldin Stewart: idiocy or hypocrisy?

"OMG ... look at the time! I'm late for
my morning meeting with my
corporate overlords to rubber-stamp
whatever plans Highmark has for
screwing Delaware customers today!"
Today's inane op-ed by Delaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart perfectly exemplifies why even the Libertarian idea of voting for "none of the above" and leaving the office empty would be better than having her in power.

First, here is KWS explaining her idea of her job:
DOI exists to regulate the state's insurance market, protect consumers, and ensure that the insurance carriers who operate in our state are able to generate enough income to remain solvent and pay claims when claims come due. It is my duty as the Insurance Commissioner to strike a balance between protecting consumers and ensuring that the insurance companies are able to operate a stable business model. When insurance companies see that Delaware provides a fair and balanced approach to regulating the insurance markets, it attracts and retains good companies that compete for your business.
Notice that protecting consumers is NOT a primary mission of her office, as interpreted by KWS--she is to strike a balance between the interests of consumers and insurance companies, because then Delaware attracts and retains good companies that compete for your business.

Really?  Then explain, please, Karen, why 93% of the private health insurance market in Delaware belongs to a single company--Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield--and why you just forced another company out of the Medicaid market to allow Highmark access to another 230,000 captive customers in that market?  (A foonote:  Aetna, the company that KWS and others drove out, actually planned far lower rate increases than Highmark.)  Where, exactly, is all this competition?

That's what makes this platitude particularly offensive:
What can you do to keep your rates low? The most important thing to do is to shop around and compare prices. 
Uh, Karen?  There is no competition in health insurance in Delaware.  Delaware is nationally recognized as having the 4th least competitive health insurance market in the US.

So if that's what we can do to lower costs, then you're a f--king failure.  Unless, of course, your definition of success is (as it seems to be) pimping for corporate interests:
How exactly do the insurance companies come up with the rate requests that they submit? The various insurance sectors (life, health, auto, home, etc.) use complex formulas to predict future costs. Insurers consider data from past claims and other state-specific factors, such as state-required minimum levels of coverage, the percentage of uninsured drivers, the likelihood of severe weather that can cause accidents or damage buildings, the state's legal climate, and the level of competition among insurance companies. 
This is such utter horsecrap that I'm surprised even the News Journal would print it (wait, no I'm not).

Highmark of Delaware's parent company last year recorded $14.9 BILLION in revenues and had a bad year of only racking up a $372 million profit.  Still, not bad for an empire supposedly built on non-profit enterprises.  Highmark uses a very simple, very traditional formula for calculating next year's rates:  whatever the market will bear (which is a LOT when you're a monopoly) and whatever your tame Insurance Commissioner will approve (in this case about 9.9%).

Karen has done such a great job as Insurance Commissioner that, besides having no competition, Delaware has suffered the highest insurance rate increases in the nation under the Affordable Care Act:
For the individual insurance market (plans sold directly to consumers); among the ten states seeing some of the sharpest average increases are: Delaware at 100%, New Hampshire 90%, Indiana 54%, California 53%, Connecticut 45%, Michigan 36%, Florida 37%, Georgia 29%, Kentucky 29%, and Pennsylvania 28%.
 In Delaware, folks we have exactly the government we deserve and that the corporations paid for:

--An Insurance Commissioner gouging customers as a proxy for corporate interests ...

--A Secretary of Education destroying our schools for corporate interests ...

--DNREC committed to the continued gutting of the Coastal Zone Act for corporate interests ...

--A Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety that spies on law-abiding citizens and shares the information with corporate interests ...

If you're beginning to see a pattern here, you're correct.

Unfortunately, you're too late, because you just voted the bastards back into office again, and they're confident that you'll keep doing so.


  1. I agree with this fully, you nailed it! The consumers should be number one in this position. Her spot is up in 2016 which is why I am challenging her! People don't think a 19 year old could do the job, but look at how she is handling it wither her years in the insurance business.

    1. @AAuen:
      Here's some talking points for your planned campaign for IC:
      1. Stewart has no "years in the insurance business" or in any other job, ever.
      2. To get elected in Delaware, you have to be connected first. She spent many years developing cronies instead of getting an education and working for a living. She is the QUEEN of corrupt connections.
      3. Ask other Delawareans who apparently know she's corrupt and incompetent, why no one ever tried to remove her from office. Answer: The Delaware Way. Don't know what that is? Better find out before you go any further.

  2. And I'm living this nightmare. TWO flipping states in the Union won't let me convert my COBRA fully paid package under identical plans--without calling it a whole other start-up plan. That's West Virginia and Delaware. So now, my 18 month COBRA has run out w/ a premium of nearly 2k a month I paid, did my 12.5 THOUSAND deductible this year, and NOW, I get to meet an entire NEW 12.5 THOUSAND deductible on the very same plan, for the remaining 45 days of the year--but of course at near 3k per month as new premium. So guess who is now vulnerable and without insurance? Yup, a working stiff who is self-employed with ten employees, and a family. Thanks for nothing--or even having a bite of the apple I have contributed to paying for everyone else. OBAMASCARE. HORIZON BLUE CROSS--the double cross in the insurance industry here as protected by our very own in charge.

  3. Like the reader/writer above. 1900 dollars a month we pay now that COBRA has run out and new job doesn't have healthcare. I actually work that job to BUY healthcare. I get health insurance is expensive. But really? You either get the gold card of some income qualifying bullshit and pay zip or a reasonable contribution. I get a second mortgage called healthcare now is not based on any scale beyond poverty. Just because i might make 40 th
    ousand more than their levels, should I have to pay 37 thousand of that to premiums, deductibles and co-pays?