KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Anthem Proposes Double-Digit Rate Hikes In Calif., Prompting Insurance Commissioner Outcry

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is calling a recent double-digit rate hike proposal and reinsurance fee by Anthem Blue Cross in his state "unreasonable," though he doesn't have much power to change it.

Marketplace: Are Insurers Hiking Rates Despite Health Care Reform
California's insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, is upset about the latest rate hikes for health insurance. And he's using the only real power he's got: Stepping up to a podium and scolding the insurance companies. In particular, he has called out Anthem Blue Cross of California for an 11 percent premium increase for some customers. But Anthem's double-digit rate hike is consistent with new 2013 rates being rolled out all over the country. Not exactly what the architects of health care reform had in mind. "We are seeing an unexpected spurt of premium increases for small employers and people who obtain policies directly from the insurance company," says Robert Field, a professor of law and health policy at Drexel University. Insurance companies are claiming the rate increases are due to higher health care costs. But Field, who notes that health care costs are leveling off, is skeptical (Horwich, 1/9).

California Healthline: Anthem, Jones Spar Over Premium Rate Hikes, Reinsurance Fee
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones [Tuesday] said a recent rate submission by Anthem Blue Cross was "unreasonable" and took particular issue with Anthem's plans to charge a reinsurance fee which Jones said forces small businesses to pay for a 2014 fee a year early, in 2013. Anthem Blue Cross officials said Jones' numbers are off and that the reinsurance fee is a benign and standard business practice which has been used for many years without complaints from government or advocates (Gorn, 1/9).

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