Greedhead Trophy Up for Grabs

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America’s sportswriters had all but ceded the coveted “Corporate Greedhead Trophy” to the Wall Street Barons this year, but here come the Health Care Insurance Giants.

To paraphrase my high school coach, “When the going gets ugly, the ugly get going.” The five largest health–insurance corporations are making a run for the trophy. They recently announced record profits for 2009 totaling $12.2 billion. That’s a 56-percent hike over the previous year for United Health, Wellpoint, Aetna, Humana and Cigna.

The Giants also booted 2.7 million Americans out of health plans last year, leaving older and sicker customers in the corporate dust. In a slick, hidden-ball play, three of the five shifted more customer premiums out of medical care, siphoning money into corporate profits, executive salaries and administrative overhead. These guys can play!

Check out the spectacular “Hail Mary” pass heaved by Anthem Blue Cross, a California subsidiary of Wellpoint. Though Wellpoint is rolling in a 91-percent increase in profits, its Anthem unit streaked toward the goal line with a demand for a 39-percent increase in premiums. That’s 10 times the rise in the cost of health care.

It won’t be easy for the upstart Giants to out-ugly the more sophisticated Wall Street Barons. The great thing about the corporate league is that competition to be the No. 1 greedhead is always fierce. Insurance is definitely in the running.

Find more information on Jim Hightower’s work—and subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown—at www.jimhightower.com.