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More health insurance rate hikes on the horizon in California

Maryalene LaPonsie | March 3, 2011

While health insurance premiums may be going up across the nation, California seem to be getting more than its fair share of bad news. First, it was Anthem Blue Cross trying to raise rates up to 39 percent in the spring of 2010. While the health insurance company was initially informed that its paperwork contained errors, California residents weren't spared the pain when Anthem submitted a corrected double-digit rate filing.

Then, Blue Shield of California announced three health insurance rate hikes from October to March, which added up to a 59 percent increase in premiums for some policyholders.

Now, less than a year after its 2010 filing debacle, Anthem Blue Cross is making headlines again with yet another individual health plan premium increase. In addition to an average premium increase of 9.8 percent across all plans, the rate filing means a 20 percent hike in some out-of-pocket costs, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

Health insurance rate increases

Anthem Blue Cross submitted its rate filing on Dec. 29. By filing before the new year, the health insurance company avoided a new state law that requires review by the California Department of Insurance of rate filings. Since Anthem's filing was in 2010, the insurance commissioner's powers are limited to notifying Anthem's customers of the company's plans.

On May 1, individual Anthem Blue Cross health plan policyholders can expect to see premiums increase and benefits decrease. Health insurance rate hikes range from a 3.3 percent average for CoreGuard individual health plans to 14.2 percent for subscribers of PPO Share, Right Plan and Premier policies. In an anomaly, Basic Hospital Plans will see 9.2 percent average premium reductions.

Actual health insurance rate changes depend upon such factors as geographic region and whether a policy is for an individual, couple or family. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, some policyholders with pre-existing conditions have received notification of 26 percent increases after experiencing hikes of more than 40 percent in the previous years.

Medical insurance benefits decrease

Almost all policies will see a decrease in benefits. According to the rate filing, Anthem Blue Cross plans to decrease benefits in four primary ways:

  1. Medical deductibles will increase by 19 percent
  2. Brand/speciality deductibles and co-pays will increase by 19 percent
  3. Co-insurance maximum will increase by 19 percent
  4. Office co-pays will increase by 19 percent

While most will see benefits decrease, Basic Hospital, PPO Saver, ClearProtection, CoreGuard and Premier health plans members will avoid the added costs. More increases are expected in the future, according to Anthem Blue Cross. In its December rate filing, Anthem estimated individual health plan subscribers in all plans will see annual premium hikes of up to 17 percent from 2012 to 2025.

Tags : health insurance companies, anthem blue cross, health insurance rates

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