Consumer Advocacy Group Urges Reviews of Pending Rate Hikes
On Tuesday, consumer advocacy group Health Access California urged state insurance regulators to conduct independent assessments of all pending premium increases for individual policyholders and residents who receive insurance through small businesses, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The move comes after Anthem Blue Cross last week cancelled plans 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 the rate hikes.Â
Blue Shield of California and other insurers recently notified consumers that their premiums would increase when their policies come up for renewal in the coming months. Health Access California is calling for reviews to be conducted to determine if any of the pending increases contain mistakes similar to those found in Anthem's methodology.
Neither insurers nor state insurance regulators would say if any rate increases were under review.
The state Department of Insurance said that its actuaries already evaluate filings to determine whether an outside review is needed, as was the case with Anthem. It is unclear what further action could be taken by the Department of Managed Health Care, which regulates the state's network of HMOs, the Times reports.
Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) said, "Even with an actuarial analysis, we still have a huge gap in our ability to regulate heath insurers and health plans," adding, "That gap is the absence of the authority to regulate rates."
Legislation (AB 2578) by Jones would require health plans to seek approval for rate increases (Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 5/4).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.