Wellpoint CEO: Health care system at large needs reform, NOT just insurance

Program: WVPE Features

Reporter: Marianne Holland, IPBS

Airdate: 09/01/2009

The CEO of the largest health insurance company in the world, Indiana-based Wellpoint, is saying national health care reform IS needed, but on the health care system at large and NOT just health insurance. 


Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly is saying meaningful health care reform can happen without a government run public option.  She says one reform she supports would be requiring those who can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, to do so. 


When asked whether health insurance company profits should be returned to customers at a certain point in the form of lower premiums, Braly said, "We really always try to keep our premium competitive but they reflect rising health care costs.  The insurance company margins tend to be around 3 to 5 percent.  Biotech margins tend to be in the 18 and a half percent, pharmaceutical margins in the 16 and a half percent so I think we have to be fair and look at all the different segments in health care."


Her comments came during an Indiana Economics Club Luncheon in downtown Indianapolis.  About a dozen protestors gathered outside the speech venue, with signs calling for health care reform and a government plan to ensure all Americans have health insurance. 


Catherine Nagy, 68, a retired nurse from Indianapolis, was among the protestors.


"People are critical indicating that government will deny care to people and ration care but insurance companies ration care as well.  I just think there should be a public option, some competition for the insurance companies."

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