Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 14 -- The California Department of Insurance issued the following news release:
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today that after his department conducted an actuarial review of a proposed rate increase by Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company, the company agreed to reduce its recently implemented premium increase in the individual market. The change affects 630,000 policyholders.
The 17.93 percent average rate increase was effective February 1, but is being lowered to 13.87 percent on average for Anthem's health insurance products sold to individuals and families. Anthem Blue Cross will lower the premium for these individual market products and will allow policyholders who switched to a lower cost product to switch back to their former product and those who dropped coverage because of the rate increase to re-enroll in the product they recently dropped without going through medical underwriting.
The rate increases for these Anthem Blue Cross PPO products include consumers who purchase their own coverage, rather than receiving coverage through their employer. The estimated total savings to the families enrolled in these Anthem Blue Cross products is $54 million. Even with this decrease, Anthem Blue Cross policyholders in the individual market will have experienced an average 22 percent rate increase over the previous 12 months because this latest rate increase is in addition to the rate increases in these products that took effect in May or July of 2012.
"Health insurance premiums continue to increase substantially and health insurance has become unaffordable for far too many Californians. Our department reviews information submitted by health insurers about their proposed rate increases, but we do not have the authority to reject excessive rate increases," said Commissioner Jones. "The department thoroughly reviewed the rate filing and then I asked Anthem Blue Cross to lower their rates. I appreciate that Anthem Blue Cross has agreed to lower these rates so policyholders will pay $54 million less than they otherwise would have," he continued.
Commissioner Jones authored legislation four years in a row while serving in the State Assembly and then sponsored AB 52 (Feuer) in the last legislative session, which would have given the insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive rate increases and limited health insurance carriers to one rate increase per year. Currently, the Department of Insurance reviews proposed rate increases, but the health insurance carriers can implement those rate increases without approval from the insurance commissioner, who lacks the authority to reject excessive rate increases. The bills authored by then Assembly Member Jones and Assembly Member Feuer passed the State Assembly, but failed in the State Senate.
TNS 23SQ 130215-JF78-4205503 StaffFurigay