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Blue Shield of California Refunds $50 Million To Consumers

Aired 11/1/12 on KPBS News.

Fifty million dollars in refunds sounds like a lot of money, but customers will only get about $25 a piece.

Blue Shield of California says it will refund $50 million to consumers before the end of December. The company has pledged to cap profits and return excess revenue to policy holders. But some consumer advocates aren't impressed.

Blue Shield made its pledge last year, after taking heat for raising premiums.

To date, the company has refunded more than $470 million to policy holders.

Anthony Wright, who directs the non-profit group Health Access California, pointed out the new refunds will amount to about $25 per customer.

"This is a relatively small percentage in the context of a health insurance premium, which is thousands of dollars, Wright explained. "So, people will certainly appreciate the check and no one will turn it away, but there's a lot more work to do to reduce the cost of health coverage and care."

The head of Blue Shield made $4.6 million last year. Meanwhile, the cost of health insurance remains unaffordable for many Californians.

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