The Washington state insurance commissioner said he will hold a hearing on a request by a for-profit subsidiary Premera Blue Cross to transfer its state of domicile from Washington to Arizona.
The subsidiary, LifeWise Health Plan of Arizona, made the request in July.
The announcement that a hearing would be held on the matter came one week after Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler lifted an order that prohibited LifeWise of Arizona from selling new policies. Kreidler issued the order Aug. 15 amid concerns that LifeWise didnt have adequate financial means and was being financed by Washington state Premera policyholders. Not-for-profit Premera, Mountlake Terrace, is Washington states largest insurer.
Since LifeWise of Arizona launched in 2004, Premera has infused $49 million into the subsidiary, according to Kreidlers office. LifeWise of Arizona has 32,000 policyholders, all in that state.
Kreidler lifted the order prohibiting new policies on Aug. 23, after receiving financial documents from Premera. If LifeWise of Arizona is not domiciled in Washington state, Kreidler would lose regulatory oversight of the subsidiary, his office said.
Before I can approve this request to move the company, I need to be certain that such a move doesnt compromise my regulatory oversight or remove tools I have today to protect the public, Kreidler said in a prepared statement.
The move has been in the works since March, said Scott Forslund, Premera spokesman. Another Premera subsidiary, LifeWise of Oregon, has domicile in Oregon, he added.
LifeWise of Arizona is headquartered in Arizona and only has policyholders in that state, Forslund said.
A hearing date on the matter has not yet been set. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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