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Anthem Blue Cross proposes 18 percent rate hike

Double-digit rate hikes for 120,000 Anthem Blue Cross health insurance policyholders will take effect Sunday despite a state regulator's determination the increase is unreasonable.
November 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Anthem Blue Cross, California's largest for-profit health insurer, could raise rates for 630,000 individual policyholders an average of 18 percent in February.

Another 100,000 individual policyholders could see a rate hike of 25 percent under the company's proposal. Anthem blames the proposed hike on the rising medical costs.

The insurer already raised premiums 14 percent this year. Several other insurers like Aetna and Health Net are also proposing rate hikes.

Insurance regulators will review the proposals. However, state officials don't have the authority to reject them for being unreasonable.

In 2010, Anthem was forced to back down from a proposed 39 percent rate increase. This year, Anthem has raised premiums up to 14 percent on average for about 700,000 individual policyholders.

On the flip side, insurance companies could owe customers refunds if a measure on the 2014 ballot passes.

That measure, the Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act, requires the companies to get approval before raising their rates.

The initiative is supported by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

The measure would require health insurance companies to publicly disclose and justify proposed rate changes before they take effect; make every document filed by an insurance company to justify a rate increase a public record; require public hearings on proposed rate increases; give Californians the right to challenge rate increases; prohibits health, auto and home insurers from considering Californians' credit history prior to coverage when setting premiums or deciding whether to offer coverage; and gives the elected insurance commissioner authority to reject unjustified rate increases.

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