Health Insurance News: Conn. Rejects Anthem BC/BS Rate Increase, Stock Prices ‘Steady’ Despite Reform Law
Health insurance plans, companies and rate hikes are in the news.
The Hartford Courant: "The state Insurance Department refuted charges Friday by a nonprofit health-policy research group that Connecticut insurance regulators are understaffed and approve only minor changes to health-insurance rate hikes. Acting Insurance Commissioner Barbara C. Spear reacted to a report released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation that said the state Department of Insurance 'has only one full-time actuary on staff' assigned to review rate filings for both the individual and small-group markets. ... 'Staffing levels do not have anything to do with the thoroughness of our rate review process,' Spear said." (Sturdevant, 12/13).
New Haven Register: "The state Department of Insurance, after a rare public hearing, has rejected the 20 percent rate increase sought by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield for individual market plans that cover some 48,000 clients, a decision that maintains the current premium prices. 'This is a great victory for insurance consumers in the state of Connecticut,' said Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, who said the ruling calls into question increases approved earlier in this fall, in which one plan saw a 47 percent rate increase. ... Anthem spokeswoman Sarah Yeager said the insurer was reviewing the ruling and said it shares the concerns 'of our members over the rising cost and rate of utilization of health care services and the corresponding adverse impact on insurance premiums.' (O'Leary, 12/4).
Forbes: "For all the talk of health care stocks sickening in the wake of Obama Care, health plan providers have held steady, evidenced by the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare Provider ETF (IHF) trading at the same level as it was in mid-March when the health care reform bill was passed. Each shock to the group, like the latest details in the health care overhaul bill regarding insurer spending limits, draws out more of the risk premium that has been venom to providers. ... One provider whose valuation has improved as the health care bill is put under the x-ray machine is Aetna (AET), down roughly 8 percent in 2010" (Cavallaro, 12/3).
Modern Healthcare: "WellPoint, Indianapolis, announced that two top executives will step down as part of the company's effort to streamline operations and reduce administrative costs. Cynthia Miller, the insurer's executive vice president and chief actuary, and Bradley Fluegel, a WellPoint EVP and chief strategy and external affairs officer, will leave the insurer" (Evans, 12/3).
Boston Globe: "Three years after the state flung open the doors for municipalities to join its less costly health insurance program, not a single city or town now wants to come in. The deadline for signing up for the Group Insurance Commission for 2011 passed this week with no takers - a disappointment for those who in 2007 believed state government had hit on a plan to save municipalities millions of dollars annually. 'This sends us back to the drawing board,'' said Joel Barrera, deputy director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council ... The obstacle to joining for most municipalities is a provision in the law that requires them to get the approval of 70 percent of a panel of local union representatives" (Murphy, 12/4).