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WellPoint Dominates Virginia’s Health Insurance Market

The insurance giant WellPoint dominated the commercial health insurance market in Virginia last year, recent state filings, reveal.

"Three of WellPoint's companies doing business in Virginia held a combined 50 percent market share in terms of the amount of premiums collected and people covered, according to a report from the State Corporation Commission's Bureau of Insurance," the Virginian-Pilot reported.

The report said these companies -- Anthem Health Plans of Virginia Inc., Healthkeepers Inc. and UniCare Life and Health Insurance Co. -- collected a massive $4.1 billion in premiums and they listed more than 1 million people on their books on Dec. 31, 2010.

Sentara Health Management Group, the insurance arm of Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare, brought in about $685 million from premiums and covered more than 170,000 people. Sentara was the third largest provider behind CareFirst Inc., the parent company of affiliates trading as CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

As personal injury attorneys based in Virginia Beach, VA, we have highlighted concerns that the domination of the market by big providers may not be good for consumers.

There are certainly experts who believe the domination of big companies isn't good for consumers. According to Dr. James Rohack, immediate past president of the American Medical Association, it leads to higher insurance premiums for consumers and lower reimbursements for physicians.

Our attorneys have highlighted a number of instances in which the health insurance industry fails to look after those who pay premiums.

In serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, we have highlighted many cases where the insurance companies have abandoned those people who made regular payments.

There seems to have been a steady increase in insurance premiums at a time of consolidation of the big companies. One of the popular myths being perpetuated by tort reform advocates, in arguments seen this year in North Carolina (NC), is that health insurance premiums have risen substantially due to an increase in medical malpractice claims and payouts. This is false, especially in Virginia.

VA medical malpractice claims are, in fact, below the national average and have been stagnant the past two years. This tends to obscure some of the real issues, such as the  fact that nearly 100,000 people die every year due to preventable medical errors. This is the real injustice behind our healthcare system and we need to do something about it.


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