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Regulating Health Insurance Premiums: A Timely Idea?

Audio

Aired 1/10/11

Blue Shield's decision to raise insurance premiums up to 57 percent could boost the chances of an Assembly bill that would regulate rates. It's an idea that's been tried before.

— Blue Shield's decision to raise insurance premiums up to 57 percent could boost the chances of an Assembly bill that would regulate rates. It's an idea that's been tried before.

Auto and home owners insurance are regulated in California. That means the state insurance commissioner has the right to reject rate increases that are considered excessive.

A bill that would regulate health insurance in California fell just short of passage last year. The measure has been reintroduced in the assembly.

Jamie Court is president of the non-profit Consumer Watchdog.

"It's something that the insurance industry hates more than anything, and they've been able to stop it," Court said. "This year we hope they won't be able to stop it, because we have these huge premium increases hitting everyone, and we don't have any way for the government to say no to insurance companies."

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has asked Blue Shield to delay their rate increase. The company does not have to comply.

Blue Shield said the rate increases are necessary to cope with rising health care costs.

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