The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Santa Monica, Calif., is calling for a California law blocking insurers with large cash reserves from raising premiums unless state officials deem the rate increases are necessary. California is one of 24 states that allow insurers to raise rates without prior approval. Five of California's largest health plan companies have amassed a combined $2.2 billion more in reserves than required by law, even as premiums are rising by about 20% a year, the foundation said. Aetna, Blue Cross of California and Health Net have roughly three times more in reserves than the minimum amount necessary, the foundation said. If the foundation's proposal doesn't find a sponsor or fails to become law, the foundation said it will seek a ballot initiative as early as 2004. The California Association of Health Plans said substantial reserves are crucial to assure providers and members that money will be available to pay claims in tight times. -- by Laura B. Benko
Groups asks Calif. to regulate insurers' rates
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