Blue Shield bars public, policyholders from “stakeholder" meeting

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In response to heavy criticism from tax authorities and consumer groups last year over its conduct as a nonprofit, Blue Shield of California will hold what it is billing as its first “annual stakeholder meeting.” Blue Shield says it wants to report on its goals and performance and how “it’s making a difference.” But the newfound openness and transparency comes with a hitch: The meeting is closed to the public.

Blue Shield is webcasting the May 18th event, so space isn't an issue. You can't even watch the proceedings unless you're one of the few who have received this invitation.

The meeting is also closed to Blue Shield’s own policyholders. The health plan has previously argued that it has no obligation to do public good because its exclusive duty as a nonprofit is to benefit its policyholders. But Blue Shield apparently doesn’t regard policyholders as stakeholders.

As the invitation-only meeting reflects, Blue Shield's corporate leaders feel no accountability to either the public or policyholders--despite controlling nonprofit assets worth billions of dollars.

And why should they? Last year they succeeded in getting California's health plan regulator to quietly exempt them from a key state law enforcing the public accountability of nonprofit health plans.