May 24, 2020

Return to not-for-profit

I agree with Mr. Kenneth Parker’s comments (BDN letters, Jan. 27-28) about outgoing insurance superintendent Al Iuppa’s performance in relation to what was Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Maine (now Anthem).

When I moved to Maine in 1979 as a new doctor, I was impressed with how well the company served both patients and doctors. There were physicians on the BCBS board of directors, one of them Dr. Charles Lightbody, a family practitioner from Guilford. He took real pride in the company, particularly in its lean financial operations such that, together with Medicare, Maine BC-BS returned the greatest number of premium dollars of any insurance company in the form of payments for medical services. In other words, as a not-for-profit entity, only the minimum amount needed went to salaries and administration.

Now we have for-profit Anthem, with multimillions going to administration, executives and stockholders. I, like Mr. Parker, wrote to Mr. Iuppa at the time, but was told nothing could be done to stop the conversion to a for-profit entity. I wonder whether if we still had a not-for-profit BC-BS in Maine, the Dirigo health plan would even be necessary.

However, in the current circumstances, I believe it is necessary – in order to return to a “not-for-profit” insurance situation. Hopefully Maine will one day lead the nation with a health insurance system which will cover all citizens of the state. This is not “socialized medicine” but a not-for-profit system which puts the premium dollars back where they belong – paying for medical care. Although the state needs to simplify the application process, we are looking into Dirigo and I would encourage other small businesses to do the same. And let Gov. Baldacci find a new insurance commissioner who is committed to making a not-for-profit insurance plan a reality once again in Maine.

David P. Frasz, M.D.


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