California Can't Stop Unreasonable 10.6 % Health Insurance Rate Hike Imposed By Anthem Blue Cross On Small Business Owners, Says

 California Can't Stop Unreasonable 10.6 % Health Insurance Rate Hike Imposed
    By Anthem Blue Cross On Small Business Owners, Says Consumer Watchdog

PR Newswire

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 8, 2012

Initiative Measure On Next Ballot Will Give California The Power To Review And
Reject Health Insurance Companies' Unreasonable Rate Hikes

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Anthem Blue
Cross plans to go ahead with a 10.6% average annual health insurance rate hike
on small business owners, despite the fact that an examination by California
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones found the rate increase to be unreasonable
and unsupportable, the Insurance Commissioner announced today. An initiative
measure that will appear on the next general election ballot would give
California the authority to publicly review rate increases, and reject those
that are excessive. Unlike most states, California law allows unreasonable
rate increases to take effect.

"Health insurance rates have risen five times greater than the rate of
inflation over the last decade, by 153%," said Jamie Court, president of
Consumer Watchdog. "It's outrageous that California, unlike most other states,
can't protect patients from unreasonable health insurance rate hikes."

The federal health reform law requires review of some rate increases. However
it fails to give states the power to reject rate increases that the data show
are excessive or unreasonable. The law relies on the bully pulpit to shame
health insurance companies into reducing unreasonable rates, a strategy that
has proven ineffective, said Consumer Watchdog.

"Reviewing rate hikes isn't enough when health insurance companies can simply
laugh off findings that the facts don't support their unreasonable increases.
California families and businesses will continue to be burdened with excessive
double-digit hikes until we have the power to say 'No' when health insurers
set prices unreasonably high," said Carmen Balber, executive director of
Consumer Watchdog.

This month's unreasonable rate increase by Anthem Blue Cross is not the first
to take effect in California, or across the country, because federal insurance
regulators and regulators in around 15 states lack the power to say no when a
rate hike is too high. In April, Aetna imposed an 8% rate increase on
California small business customers despite the Insurance Commissioner's
finding that it was unreasonable. Anthem Blue Cross imposed an average 16%
rate hike on 120,000 Californians with individual policies the prior year,
despite the fact that the Department of Managed Health Care determined that
the increase was unreasonable. This spring, a U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services examination found that rate hikes in at least nine states were
unreasonable, yet health insurance companies went ahead with the increases
because HHS did not have the power to stop them.

Insurance reform law Proposition 103 regulates auto, home and business
insurance rates in California, and requires insurers to open their books,
publicly justify and get approval for rate increases before they take effect.
That law, Proposition 103, was enacted by the voters in 1988 and has saved
California drivers $62 billion on their auto insurance premiums. An initiative
measure that has qualified for the 2014 general election ballot would extend
Prop 103's requirements for fair insurance pricing for the three lines of
insurance that Californians must purchase, either by law or necessity – auto,
homeowners and health.

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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

Contact: Doug Heller, +1-310-392-0708; Jamie Court +1-310-874-9989; Carmen
Balber, +1-310-403-0284
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