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Anthem Blue Cross Announces Another Rate Hike

Aired 11/29/12 on KPBS News.

Another price increase is on the way for Anthem Blue Cross individual policyholders in California.

— More than 500,000 Californians with Anthem Blue Cross are facing a big rate hike. The state's biggest for-profit health insurer wants to raise premiums an average of 18 percent in February.

The proposed rate hikes will affect people who have individual policies with Anthem Blue Cross. Some will see their premiums go up by 25 percent.

Carmen Balber with the non-profit group Consumer Watchdog said enough is enough.

"This is just the latest in a long string of outrageous double-digit rates hikes that Anthem Blue Cross has tried to impose on hundreds of thousands of California policyholders," Balber said.

Anthem's price hike comes at a time when healthcare inflation is running at around 4 percent.

A company spokesman said even with the premium increases, Anthem expects to lose money on individual policies next year.

Carmen Balber doesn't buy it.

"We find it hard to believe that Anthem Blue Cross, which has a parent company, WellPoint, which is making billions in profits every year, isn't doing well in California," she said.

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says he plans to review the rate request. But he can't stop it. That's because California law doesn 't allow regulators to reject health insurance rate hikes.

The price of health insurance is regulated in 35 other states.

Consumer Watchdog has helped qualify a measure for the November 2014 ballot that would give California regulators the power to reject excessive health insurance rate hikes. State regulators already have the to power to do so for auto and home owners insurance.

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