IBJNews

Consumer group sues Anthem over policy changes

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A consumer watchdog group filed a lawsuit Monday against California's largest for-profit health insurer on behalf of policyholders, claiming they were pushed to take coverage with fewer benefits and higher deductibles.

In the case filed in Ventura Superior Court, Anthem Blue Cross is accused of violating a California law requiring health insurers to offer new, comparable coverage or minimize premium increases when they close a policy.

According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs Mary Feller and Randy Freed received similar form letters from the Woodland Hills-based insurer, stating their policies were closed and they could "switch to any Anthem Blue Cross individual health plan with no underwriting required."

The lawsuit alleges that the few plans Anthem would allow Feller and Freed to switch into had higher premiums, higher deductibles, less coverage, or a combination of those undesirable traits.

Anthem Blue Cross spokeswoman Peggy Hinz said the insurer hasn't yet reviewed the case, declining further comment.

Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based consumer advocacy group, filed the case on behalf of Feller and Freed. The lawsuit seeks class action status.

When the practice was outlawed in 1993, legislative analysts called it a "death spiral" because rates inevitably increased until policyholders could no longer afford coverage. As the coverage pool shrank over time, rates went up and up.

"It's a very profitable practice, and what we know is the insurance industry is very focused on short-term returns," said Jerry Flanagan, a health advocate for Consumer Watchdog.

With her family's premiums up to nearly $25,000 a year, Feller says she, her husband and daughter — a cancer survivor — are spending more on health insurance premiums than they do on their mortgage, "and we live in Marin County, California, which is one of the costliest real estate markets in the country."

"I think for the first time, we're really scared that we're going to be without health insurance," she said.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of government scrutiny of a steep Anthem Blue Cross rate hike for roughly 700,000 individual policyholders in California. The hikes average 25 percent — some premiums will rise as much as 39 percent — but implementation of the hike has been delayed until May 1 while a state regulator investigates.

Anthem executives have blamed the current economic climate, flaws in the national health care system, high costs of health care and fewer young, healthy people holding onto insurance policies for the rate hikes.

The Obama administration has called Anthem's hike a harbinger of rising premiums in its arguments for health care reform.

In special hearings last week, California legislators and the U.S. House of Representatives questioned executives from Indianapolis-based WellPoint, Anthem's parent company, about proposed premium hikes in California, Maine and elsewhere.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • mark my words...
    ...I have a VERY special place in hell reserved for thes corporate evildoers whose sole purpose is to enrich their earthly pockets while selling their eternal souls to the devil, and unfortunately people are dying because of the GREED of these whores...really, Larry GLASSCOCK, Braly and the rest of these corporate criminals should burn forever for their sins!!!

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:
 
thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Here are a few candidates for this new group, "ripped from the headlines." First up, that bizzaro State Senator Brent Waltz; secondly, the unethical Todd Huston, and his contractual arrangements scheme; Finally, but not least of all, the dishonorable Eric Turner. What sayeth you Greg Zoeller?

  2. Good day. I can't hide this great testimony that take place in my life I will love everyone to know it and be partaker that is why I always place it on answer, I am Mrs,Natalie Cuttaia by name, I live in Texas, United State Of America, I want to thank (Mr.Bruce Brandon) for his kindness upon my family life. I never knew that there is still nice lender like this on internet and earth here. Just some Months Back, I was in search for a loan of $100,000,00 as I was running out of money for feeding and rent. I was scammed $6,800 Dollars and I decided not to involve my self in such business again but a Friend of my introduced me to a loan firm due to my appearance and doings. And I told him that I am not interested of any loan deal anymore but he told me that there is still a nice lender who he will recommend me to, and I made a trial and I am most grateful lucky am I today, I was given a loan amount of $100,000.00usd, by this great Company (Bruce Brandon Loan Company) managed by (Mr.Bruce Brandon) If you are in need of a genuine or legit loan or financial assistance and you can be reliable and trusted of capable of paying back at the due time of the funds I will advice you to, contact him via: ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com ) And you will be free from scams in the internet. All thanks to Mr.Bruce Brandon You are the one who remove me and my family out of poverty. The reason why i am doing this is that, i promise Mr.Bruce Brandon that if i truly got my loan, i will advertize his company and bring customers to his company. Contact him via ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com )for the Loan you have been looking for..

  3. Hello, We are firm Organization formed to help people in needs of helps,such as financial help. So if you are going through financial difficulty or you are in any financial mess,and you need funds to start up your own business,or you need loan to settle your debt or pay off your bills,start a nice business, or you are finding it hard to obtain capital loan from local banks,contact us today via email mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com So do not let these opportunity pass you by because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever more. Please these is for serious minded and God fearing People. Your Name: Loan Amount: Loan Duration: Valid Cell Phone Number: Thanks for your understanding to your contact as we Await Regards Management Email:mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com

  4. The question is, where could they build a new stadium? It seems in the past year, all the prime spots have been spoken for with potential projects. Maybe in the industrial wasteland area a block past Lucas Oil? I think it needs to be close to the core, if a new stadium is built.

  5. Aldi is generally a great shopping experience. Still, I'm sure YOU wouldn't want to shop there, which I consider a positive.

ADVERTISEMENT