Anthem Blue Cross Eyes Premium Hikes of Up to 20% for Individual Plans
Anthem Blue Cross, a WellPoint subsidiary, is seeking to increase premiums by as much as 20% for individual health insurance policyholders in California, the Los Angeles Times reports. Anthem said it plans to implement the new rates on Sept. 1 (Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 7/1).
This spring, Anthem Blue Cross withdrew a request to increase premiums by as much as 39% for about 800,000 individual policyholders after a state-sponsored investigation found errors in the way the insurer justified its rate hikes (California Healthline, 5/9).
Anthem officials said the company took "multiple steps" -- including seeking the input of a third-party reviewer -- to ensure its latest rate filing was accurate (Kawahara, Sacramento Bee, 7/1).
New Rate Hikes
The insurer's new proposal would raise premiums by an average of 14%, with a maximum increase of 20% (Los Angeles Times, 7/1). However, outside actuary Axene Health Partners said at least one of Anthem's health plans could see a 24.5% rate increase (Johnson, Wall Street Journal, 7/1).
WellPoint spokesperson Kristin Binns said the increases would affect about 600,000 California enrollees (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/1).
The insurer said the increases are necessary and unavoidable. It noted that the company still will lose more than $100 million in 2010 on individual policies in California, despite the rate hikes.
Policyholders and consumer advocates who criticized Anthem's initial rate increases also are criticizing the new figures as excessive. They also worry that Anthem will try to recoup losses by seeking subsequent rate increases (Los Angeles Times, 7/1).Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (R) said his department would evaluate the new rate request with a "fine-tooth comb" (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/1). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.