IBJNews

California OKs Anthem rate hike after controversy

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

State regulators have accepted 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, a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based Wellpoint Inc. and the California'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 criticized by President Barack Obama as an example of a broken health care system in the run-up to the vote on federal health care reform.

The smaller increase announced Wednesday was expected to save consumers $184 million, Department of Insurance spokesman Ioannis Kazanis said.

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."

Not-for-profit 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.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner instituted independent reviews of the top four insurers in the state in June to help keep the companies in line with California law mandating 70 percent of income be used for medical treatment of policyholders.

The rate hikes by Anthem and Blue Shield underwent independent reviews that were released Wednesday and found the two major insurers to be in compliance with the law.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a not-for-profit advocacy group for consumers, said state regulators need better control over the rate hike approval process. Two bills currently being considered by the Legislature — AB2578 and SB1163 — would strengthen the authority of insurance regulators, he said.

"The fact that Anthem had to pull back and reduce their rate hike shows that public oversight can work, but we're not going to have the presidential spotlight on every future rate increase," Wright said.

Providers must give 30 days notice to policyholders before increasing rates.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Because they are the only bad guys
    Hector - go survey the hospitals and doctors in California and across this country if they see double digit reimbursement increases annually. If any hospital is in the press for getting such an increase in one year it is going to be because the insurance company did not give them any increases for multiple years prior to that.
  • Why the only bad guy?
    Why do only the ones paying for the skyward costs of health care - the insurance companies - get scalded when the raise their prices?

    What about the doctors, hospitals, etc.? Why do they get a free pass when they jack up their rates?

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

    2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

    3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

    4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

    5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

    ADVERTISEMENT