An open letter to Health Net CEO, Jay M. GellertFebruary 01, 2009 by Bill Strong January 31, 2009
Mr. Jay M. Gellert
President and Chief Executive Officer, Health Net, Inc.
21650 Oxnard Street
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Dear Mr. Gellert:
As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Health Net, I think you should be made aware of something that your company is doing and the impact it will have on the well-being of your members. My wife and I have two Health Net PPO insurance policies. In January 2009, we received a form letter from Mr. Sam Cole, Regional VP of Individual and Family Plans, informing us that our policy premiums would be increasing 35% and 20%, respectively. Mr. Cole cited our age, type of coverage, dependent status, address, and the cost of providing health care as contributing factors. To me, this is unfathomably egregious.
My wife and I have a 16-month-old daughter, Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn was born perfectly healthy in October 2007, but was diagnosed with the motor-neuron disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) at 6-months. Her mind is no different from that of any other healthy baby, but her body is failing her. She is completely paralyzed and requires constant 24-hour care. Based on statistics, we will lose Gwendolyn before her 2nd birthday.
As you can imagine, our situation is extremely challenging. I dont tell you this to ask for your sympathy, I tell you this to explain that an unexpected premium increase of this magnitude is financially catastrophic and, given the uninsurability of our family, is immoral. Im certain that, as one of the largest health insurance providers in California, your decision to increase premiums to this extent is negatively impacting thousands of members in similar circumstances. According to a Harvard University study, more than 50% of household bankruptcies are related to medical debt and more than 75% of those had health insurance. No doubt Health Nets decision to increase premiums at this rate will only increase this appalling statistic.
As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Health Net, Im formally asking that you reconsider your premium increase policy for these types of situations not only for my family, but for all families that have been impacted by life-altering medical circumstances. I understand that the economics of the health care industry are squeezing all parties involved and I realize that it may not help you make your quarterly or annual earnings estimates, but its the right, just, and moral thing to do.
I thank you in advance for your time and consideration and would be more than happy to speak with you if you would like more information.
Santa Barbara, California
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