Anthem Blue Cross Will Reduce Planned Premium Rate Increases
Responding to pressure from state officials, Anthem Blue Cross has agreed to lower planned premium rate increases for almost 600,000 policyholders in California, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Insurers in California are required to submit proposed rate increases for review. However, state officials do not have the authority to reject rate hikes they deem excessive (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 3/22). Patient advocates and lawmakers continue to rally support for a proposed ballot measure that would give California's insurance department the authority to approve or reject rate increases (California Healthline, 2/23).
According to the Times, state officials reviewed Anthem's rate hike proposal and found that the insurer's estimates for future medical expenses were unjustified. Officials pressured the insurer to trim the planned rate increases.
Details of Rate Hike Reduction
Anthem has agreed to lower its rate increases from an average of 10.4% to 8.2%.
According to the California Department of Insurance, the maximum rate hike will be 20% instead of 30%, as Anthem originally proposed.
Janice Rocco, deputy commissioner for health policy at the Department of Insurance, said the reduced rate hike will save policyholders $41.4 million.
The state Department of Managed Health Care said it is reviewing a separate request from Anthem to increase premiums by an average of 13.8%Â for 110,000 members with different policies.
Rocco said that Anthem's decision to trim certain rate increases "does provide some relief to policyholders, but not as much as many of them would like to see."
Darrel Ng, spokesperson for Anthem, said, "[I]n modifying our rate filings, we were sensitive to the challenges increasing health care costs place on our individual members" (Los Angeles Times, 3/22).ÂThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.