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Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, and PacifiCare Agree To Delay Rate Hikes for 60 Days

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Three major California health insurers have agreed to comply with Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' (D) request to delay their planned premium increases for 60 days, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Background

Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and PacifiCare all recently submitted notices about their plans to raise rates for members with individual health insurance policies (Ceasar/Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 1/27).

The insurers' rate filings show that:


  • Anthem proposed raising premiums by an average of 9.8%;

  • PacifiCare proposed raising premiums by between 2.5% and 9.1%; and

  • Aetna proposed raising rates by an average of 2.8% (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/28).

Delay Details

Jones asked the insurers to delay their premium increases so he would have sufficient time to review their rate filings and ensure that they comply with state law.
Both Aetna and Anthem proposed two rate hikes that would have taken effect on Jan. 1 and April 1. The health plans agreed to delay both rate hikes for 60 days past their original starting date.

PacifiCare also proposed a rate hike that was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, but said the increase now would be delayed until April 1.

No Delay for Blue Shield

Meanwhile, Blue Shield of California is moving forward with its plan to increase premiums by an average of 30% for nearly 200,000 individual policyholders. The insurer rejected Jones' request to delay a 6% premium increase scheduled for March 1, which would be Blue Shield's third rate hike since Oct. 1, 2010. Some Blue Shield policyholders could see their premiums climb by as much as 59% cumulatively after the three rate increases.
In a statement, Jones said, "Blue Shield policyholders will not have the benefit of this additional review period to ensure compliance with the law, but I will do what is within my power to determine whether Blue Shield's proposed rates are in compliance with the law and to enforce that law" (Thompson, AP/Bloomberg, 1/27).

Blue Shield said it has hired an outside actuary to review its rate filings. The company also said it would issue refunds to policyholders if the actuary finds the rates to be unsound (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 1/28).

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