Sebelius Responds to Letter from WellPoint

Feb. 11, 2010--U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued the following statement after receiving a letter from WellPoint Incorporated. The letter came after Sebelius called on Anthem Blue Cross to publicly justify its decision to raise premiums for its California customers by as much as 39 percent. WellPoint Incorporated is the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross and earned $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009. Sebelius' statement is below:

"It remains difficult to understand how a company that made $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009 alone can justify massive increases that will leave consumers with nothing but bad options: pay more for coverage, cut back on benefits or join the ranks of the uninsured. High health care costs alone cannot account for a premium increase that is 10 times higher than national health spending growth. Without comprehensive reform, fewer people will be able to afford health insurance and Anthem's decision to raise their rates only demonstrates the urgent need for real reforms that fix our broken health insurance system. Reform will end the worst insurance company practices and put doctors and patients -- not insurance companies -- in charge of medical decisions. If we fail to implement reform, insurance companies will continue to prosper while families will continue to struggle."