California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has asked Blue Shield of California to delay implementation of planned premium rate hikes for individual policyholders of up to 59% so he can review them. Jones is asking for a 60-day reprieve on all rate increases planned so far this year from the San Francisco-based not-for-profit insurer. Some rate increases went into effect Jan. 1, others are slated for March 1.
Late News: Calif. commissioner wants to review Blue Shield's 59% hike
About 200,000 policyholders will be affected. “I have not had an opportunity to make sure it complies with California's laws,” said Jones, who took office on Jan. 3. Blue Shield of California said in a statement the rate hikes are not a result of the federal health reform law. “Our individual market medical costs are rising rapidly due to higher provider prices, increased utilization and the fact that healthier people are dropping coverage during a bad economy,” the insurer said in a statement, adding that the company expects to lose tens of millions of dollars on this business this year and next. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement saying the situation demonstrates the need for new rules that will require insurers to report and explain large premium increases. (Jan. 3, p. 6)
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