WASHINGTON, D.C. - Wisconsin's U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl are calling on Wellpoint Insurance executives to justify the recent hikes in insurance premiums for over 13,000 Wisconsinites.  In a letter to Wellpoint President and CEO Angela Braly, Feingold and Kohl question if the increases in premiums are necessary, especially following a huge profit last year for the insurance company.  According to the Wisconsin Office of Commissions of Insurance, Wellpoint intends to increase health insurance premiums for over 13,000 Wisconsinites who are currently enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield of WisconsinBlue Access, Blue Economy, Blue Value, and Blue Preferred Plus plans.
"Last year, as 14,000 Americans lost their health insurance coverage each day, Wellpoint nearly doubled its profits and raked in $4.7 billion," Feingold said.  "Washington needs to find the courage to take on the special interests and act, because if it doesn't, insurance premiums will continue to skyrocket and Americans will continue to be denied or dropped from coverage because of pre-existing conditions or because they change jobs.  Wisconsin taxpayers and small businesses simply can't afford the excessive premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs that are fueling insurance company profits instead of contributing to high-quality care for Wisconsinites."  
"Experts predict that health care premiums will double by 2020.  That projection rings true when we hear about outrageous rate hikes like the one Wellpoint just instituted in Wisconsin, set to break the bank for thousands of Wisconsin families.  This is the latest example of why we need to pass health reform legislation in order to make health care more affordable," Kohl said.
A copy of Feingold and Kohl's letter to Wellpoint can be viewed here or below. 
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March 3, 2010
Angela Braly
President and CEO
WellPoint Inc.
120 Monument Circle
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Ms. Braly,
We are extremely troubled by the news that Wellpoint will significantly increase health insurance premiums for enrollees of certain individual-policy insurance plans sold through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin beginning April 1, 2010.
According to the January 12, 2010 filing with the Wisconsin Office of Commissioner of Insurance, Wellpoint intends to increase premiums for over thirteen thousand Wisconsinites who are currently enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin Blue Access, Blue Economy, Blue Value, and Blue Preferred Plus plans by 17.2 percent.
This increase follows a record-setting profit year for Wellpoint, in which profits doubled to $4.7 billion in 2009. That same year, thousands of Wisconsinites lost their health insurance due to premium increases, dropped policies, or pre-existing conditions.
Wisconsinites are eager for health insurance relief. We cannot understand how these large increases in premiums are justified, and ask that you explain the rationale for placing such a heavy burden on policy holders. We hope that Wellpoint, which holds 17 percent of the individual market in Wisconsin, will reconsider this decision, taking into account how these higher rates would impact the many Wisconsinites who are struggling financially.
Russell D. Feingold                                       Herb Kohl
United States Senate                                  United States Senate