"We raise rates only when absolutely necessary to pay the accelerating cost of medical care for our members"
January 6, 2011 3:46 PM Subscribe
Blue Shield of California seeks rate hikes of as much as 59% for individuals.
'Insurer says the increases result from fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws. The move comes less than a year after Anthem Blue Cross tried and failed to raise rates as much as 39%.''Nearly 1 in 4 of the affected customers will see cumulative increases of more than 50% over five months.''Michael Fraser, a Blue Shield policyholder from San Diego, learned recently that his monthly bill would climb 59%, to $431 from $271.''Anthem's attempt to raise rates by up to 39% led to national outrage and helped President Obama marshal support for his healthcare overhaul. The insurer was ultimately forced to back down, accepting maximum rate hikes of 20%.'
'Blue Shield said the cost of health coverage was being driven up by large hospital expenses, doctors' bills and prescription drug prices.' The non-profit insurer's spokesman Tom Epstein, said Blue Shield 'would again lose "tens of millions of dollars" on its individual business in 2011.'
'Anthem said Wednesday that it too expected to raise rates — an average of 9.8% for individual policyholders, effective April 1. That would come on top of increases in October averaging 14% that had been delayed for six months amid heightened scrutiny by state regulators.
Anthem is taking a cautious approach to its rate hikes given the controversy generated by last year's plan for 39% hikes.
Spokeswoman Kristin Binns said the company priced its 2011 rates competitively, saying: "We understand that these are difficult economic times, and we are committed to working to moderate the impact of rate increases on our members."'