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Most businesses are acquisitive to accept bodies pay their annual bills with automated acclaim agenda payments. There’s a acceptable reason: Businesses apperceive they will get paid on a approved basis.

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So why is bloom allowance ample Anthem Blue Cross cogent associates it will no best acquiesce them to do this — at atomic not afterwards a ample fee?

Tom Harris of West Los Angeles has been insured by Anthem for about 40 years. He’s paid his bills automatically from his acclaim agenda annual for as continued as he can remember.

“It’s abundant simpler this way,” Harris, 60, told me. “I never accept to anguish about autograph a check.”

But he accustomed a apprehension from Anthem the added day allegorical him that automated agenda payments will be discontinued Aug. 1. “We advised our processes and absitively to annihilate this acquittal method,” the aggregation explained.

Anthem additionally is eliminating the advantage of authoritative payments on a annual or annual basis. Beginning Aug. 1, all payments will accept to be fabricated monthly.

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So what are Harris’ choices? Anthem says he can abide advantageous with plastic, but he’ll accept to alarm a account rep anniversary time. This will aftereffect in a $15 “convenience fee” every time Harris pays his bill.

To accomplish payments afterwards added charges, Anthem says, associates can either accelerate in checks anniversary ages or annals online to accept money automatically aloof from their blockage accounts.

But — and this is a big but — anyone who now makes automated agenda payments will alpha accepting annual statements from Anthem. This will aftereffect in a $2 fee anniversary month, which others who aren’t on automated acquittal affairs already are charged.

Anthem says it will abandon the $2 fee for a while so associates can acclimatize to the new system. “We will let you apperceive afore the $2 fee returns,” it says.

So let’s recap: Anthem is accomplishing abroad with a convenance that best added businesses adopt for its customers’ accessibility and affirmed payments, and will instead allegation a $15 annual fee if you appetite to accumulate application your acclaim card.

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Even if you about-face to advantageous by check, you’ll still be answerable $2 a ages to accept a cardboard account that you didn’t ask for.

As Harris put it: “That’s $24 a year aloof to pay your bills. It seems crazy.”

Or awful profitable. Anthem, afterwards all, has added than 8 actor associates in California.

On top of that, anticipate of all the airline afar and rewards credibility Anthem associates will lose by not advantageous premiums with artificial — unless they additionally appetite to pay an added $180 a year in accessibility fees.

So what does the aggregation say? Not much.

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Leslie Porras, an Anthem spokeswoman, alone common the capacity of the company’s apprehension to associates back I asked about the new announcement practices. She beneath to animadversion on the account for the changes.

In the absence of a bigger explanation, I’m absorbed to see things the way Harris sees them: Anthem is authoritative a money grab.

Perhaps the allowance behemothic is aggravating to avert use of acclaim cards so it won’t accept to pay processing fees to the brand of Visa and MasterCard. Perhaps it sees some added account in actuality absorbed into people’s blockage accounts.

The basal band is that it’s authoritative barter pay to pay, and that’s unacceptable. At the actual least, Anthem should align for chargeless cyberbanking statements to be issued so bodies could abstain the cher cardboard statements they never capital in the aboriginal place.

Seriously, bloom insurers don’t anticipate they get abundant bad columnist already?

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Buy this drug

Speaking of healthcare, clairvoyant David Eisen contacted me over the weekend with a brace of burning questions. The aboriginal complex why the prizes in Cracker Jack boxes aren’t air-conditioned anymore. Sadly, I accept no acknowledgment for that one.

The added catechism complex those all-over ads on TV and in book for decree drugs. “Would you absolutely appetite to go to a doctor to whom you had to advance a medication?” Eisen asked.

If you put it like that, the acknowledgment for best bodies is apparently no. But the biologic industry wants consumers to at atomic ask for cher name-brand drugs, rather than achieve for cheaper generics.

Believe it or not, alone two countries acquiesce biologic companies to angle decree drugs anon to consumers: the United States and New Zealand. All added nations appearance this as an inappropriate advance on the accord amid doctor and patient.

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In 2007, biologic makers spent about $5 billion on alleged direct-to-consumer ads, according to a contempo abstraction by the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Bloom Economics.

Added than 80% of doctors say these ads aftereffect in patients’ requesting specific medications, and they generally will board these requests to accumulate patients happy, the abstraction found.

Although the abstraction didn’t abode this, you can be abiding the biologic industry isn’t burning the billions spent on business decree drugs. Those costs are anesthetized forth to consumers in the anatomy of college prices for medicine.

Direct-to-consumer biologic ads were banned in the United States until 1997, back the Food and Biologic Administration absitively to accord it a whirl. Since then, business of decree drugs has exploded, authoritative a night of TV assume like an amaranthine archive of disorders and ancillary effects.

From 1999 to 2009, the cardinal of prescriptions purchased in the United States added 39%, while the citizenry grew alone 9%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And best prescriptions accounting were for newer, added big-ticket drugs.

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On the brighter side, at atomic you don’t accept to pay a accessibility fee for application your acclaim agenda at the drugstore.

David Lazarus’ cavalcade runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He additionally can be apparent circadian on KTLA-TV Channel 5. Accelerate your tips or acknowledgment to [email protected]

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