Anthem Blue Cross gets 14 percent rate hike
State regulators have approved rate hikes on individual Anthem Blue Cross health insurance policies after public outrage and government scrutiny halted a larger increase.
The California Department of Insurance said Wednesday it approved a rate increase averaging about 14 percent for Anthem Blue Cross customers. The department also approved a nearly 19 percent increase for Blue Shield of California.
Anthem, the state’s largest for-profit insurer, had previously requested a boost that would have raised rates as much as 39 percent for some customers, with average increases of about 25 percent. But regulators found accounting errors in the proposal and Anthem retracted the filing, which would have affected about 700,000 individual policies regulated by the commissioner. Another 100,000 individual policies are regulated by the state’s other insurance regulator, the Department of Managed Healthcare.
Anthem’s rate hike was repeatedly held up by President Barack Obama as an example of a broken health care system in the run up to the vote on the federal health care reform bill.
The smaller increase announced Wednesday is expected to save consumers $184 million, said Department of Insurance spokesman Ioannis Kazanis.
Anthem spokeswoman Kristin Binns said in a written statement the company “is pleased that the department has posed no objections to our individual rate filings and we look forward to continuing to serve consumers in California.”
Anthem’s parent company is Indianapolis-based Wellpoint Inc.
Nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California’s rate hike will affect more than 247,000 policyholders.
“We wish it were a much smaller increase, but this is unfortunately what we’re paying out to hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies to pay the cost of the claims of these members,” said Tom Epstein, spokesman for Blue Shield.
Providers must give 30 days’ notice to policyholders before increasing rates.
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