Anthem Blue Cross in Spotlight Again Over Planned Rate Hikes
Many Anthem Blue Cross of California members with individual insurance policies have received notification that the insurer plans to raise rates on May 1, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The increase means that some policyholders will face a cumulative rise in premiums of more than 40% in less than a year.
The insurer said that soaring health care costs have forced them to raise their rates.
Rate Hike Background
Anthemâs notification comes about one year after the insurer announced plans to raise rates by as much as 39% for about 700,000 individual policyholders. The proposal helped intensify the debate on federal health reform legislation.
Californiaâs Department of Insurance later found mathematical inaccuracies in Anthemâs filings (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/3). The insurer subsequently scaled back its premium increases to an average of 14% for individual policyholders (California Healthline, 8/26/10).
Aetna, Blue Shield of California and other insurers also have proposed significant rate hikes during the past year.
Regulating the Insurers
A state law that took effect this year authorizes state officials to review -- but not approve or deny -- planned rate hikes. Anthem submitted its rate filings a few days before the end of 2010, meaning that state officials can ensure only that policyholders receive proper notification.
According to Department of Insurance officials, Anthem's latest rate filings appear to fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Managed Health Care. However, DMHC officials said there is little they can do about the planned premium hikes (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/3).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.