Like hyenas culling an injured wildebeest from the herd, health insurers are ganging up on single policyholders—the ones without group clout or protection—and demanding premium increases large enough to cause cardiac arrest in their healthiest policyholders.

That the industry continues to gouge Americans is not news. But doing it so boldly during a time when people can barely afford to stay in their homes, let alone pay their current health insurance premiums, would seem to be playing unnecessarily with fire. It could actually stir up grass roots passions, and revive the currently moribund national health insurance debate–something I’m sure the health insurance suits would rather put off for another millennium or two.

Where’s their concern about public opinion?  WellPoint / Anthem demanding a 39% increase in Californians’ premiums after boasting record profits in 2009 should have approximately the same marketing value as Toyota choosing “Caveat Emptor” as a new advertising slogan.

This kind of behavior pisses people off, and pissed-off people are unpredictable people. They just might start thinking, “hey, if this industry is unethical enough to do this to us during one of the worst recessions in history, maybe they were lying to us about Obamacare “death panels,” socialism and National Health waiting lines in England. Maybe this Public Option thing isn’t such a bad idea after all.”

Could it be that WellPoint and the others believe they have so completely torpedoed health insurance reform with their misleading TV spots and astro-turf protests that they feel public opinion is no longer something to worry about?

I’m betting they’re wrong. Though the insurers still have plenty of legislators in their pockets, politicians do need votes. When policyholders in Maine, Oregon, Kansas and California start having to choose between eating and health insurance—they’ll want someone to blame.

These premium hikes should remind voters who the true boogeyman is in our health care crisis. Politician friends of WellPoint / Anthem and the others had better start looking for new friends — if they’d like to stay in office, that is.

For a look at the health care reform debate set to music, check out my video “All-American Suckers”

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