Customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina are up in arms about a flier the company sent out urging their clientele to oppose health care reform -- shortly after sending out a notice informing them their health insurance rates would go up an average of 11 percent.
"Indignant Blue Cross customers have rebelled against the insurer's message, complaining that their premium dollars have funded such a campaign," reports the Raleigh-Durham News & Observer.
Over the past few days, Blue Cross customers have started a Web-based campaign to smother the insurance company's message. In its flier, Blue Cross had included a form letter to North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, asking Hagan to "please oppose government-run health insurance." Customers have taken to marking up the form letter and using Blue Cross' pre-paid postage to ask Hagan to do the opposite:
Blue Cross spokesman Lew Borman told the News & Observer that the company didn't use its customer list to send out the political flier, but rather relied on voter registration records.
But, as Jason Rosenbaum points out at The Seminal, Blue Cross controls 53 percent of the health insurance market in North Carolina, including 98 percent of individual non-employer-provided policies, so inevitably the fliers would have landed with Blue Cross customers.
Blogger Hissyspit at DailyKos was among the people who received one of Blue Cross' fliers.
"I figured out that the enclosed postcard could be altered to conversely subvert the intended purpose and that's what I did," Hissyspit wrote. "I crossed out portions of the message, wrote in my own, and and put it in the Saturday mail."
It was only after that happened that the blogger realized many other North Carolinians had come across the same idea.
The irony of the backlash against Blue Cross' campaign was not lost on Rosenbaum.
"Thank you, Blue Cross, for making the point for us so well," he wrote. "Whatever the insurance companies want, you should want the opposite."