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California Officials Say Hands Are Tied Over Health Insurance Rate Hikes

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is blasting Anthem Blue Cross for raising rates on small businesses. But other than complaining about it, there's little state officials can do.

Aired 1/10/13 on KPBS News.

California regulators aren't happy about it, but they don't have the power to block the latest Anthem Blue Cross rate hike from taking effect later this month.

Wikimedia Commons

Anthem's corporate headquarters in Newbury Park, California.

When auto or homeowner insurers want to raise premiums, they have to get permission from the California insurance commissioner. The regulator can reject rate increases that are found to be unreasonable.

But California officials can't block health insurance rate hikes. As a result, some 250,000 small business policyholders will see their Anthem Blue Cross rates go up this month. Some firms will see a 17 percent increase.

Health insurance premiums are regulated in 37 other states. A bill to grant that authority has never cleared the California legislature.

Consumer advocates have qualified a rate regulation measure for the November 2014 ballot. Health insurers are expected to wage an expensive battle to defeat it.

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | January 10, 2013 at 7:13 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm an individual plan "member" with Anthem Blue Cross and I just got a letter informing me I'll have a 24% increase in my family plan this year. So it's not just small businesses getting gouged. Last year my premiums went up close to 30%, as they did the previous two years. We need to take the profits in these health insurance pools and put them right back into the system where they'll do good. I certainly don't want to reward some CEO's lifestyle with my money, especially when it's based on people's misfortunes.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 10, 2013 at 9:37 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

There's always something.

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Avatar for user 'jskdn'

jskdn | January 10, 2013 at 11:26 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is actively lobbying for passage of the insurance regulation initiative that would give him greater powers. He appears to be making a media tour to push that effort. It's a shame we seem to lack a news media that possesses a fundamental characteristic of quality journalism: skepticism.

Commissioner Jones department can review rate increases and apparently did so here. But Anthem is disputing his calculations. How about submitting the rate increase calculations to an outside, independent actuary to see who is correct?

The Affordable Care Act also restricts premiums by using medical loss ratios. I assume these rate increase will be subject to those limitations. It would be nice if reporters would ask some experts about the criteria for regulating rates that have been proposed by the legislature and those in the upcoming initiative.

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | January 10, 2013 at 4 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Thank you for the news jskdn. I learned last year that our insurance commissioner had his hands tied. I'm glad to learn from you that he's trying to help us with new rules. I hope the governor and the democratic supermajority in Sacramento help him out!

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Avatar for user 'jskdn'

jskdn | January 11, 2013 at 12:28 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

RegularChristian- I should add that I also face a 24% increase in my premiums from Anthem coming in next month. I want to know if that is justified by the actuarial analysis and wish that our insurance commissioner would provide that soon. The Dept. of Insurance website has my 24.6% increase and another Anthem increase of 26% as still under review. You can go here to see the filing and comment on them:

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | January 11, 2013 at 3:07 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm on my way... Thanks

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Avatar for user 'beenthere'

beenthere | January 12, 2013 at 12:05 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

tax break for illegals;_ylt=A2KLqIKawfFQcV8Awx77w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBvcTJzcm5xBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDVjEzMQ--?p=illegals+tax+breaks&vid=6f1e6d5293c2a2e2dcde88eb49fb5673&l=3%3A43&

The fact that the Congress has to bend a knee to the illegal alien crowed shows what

a bunch of bumbling fools they have been ......At the least from 1986 when Reagan signed the massive amnesty that gave 3 million illegals US citizenship....they did next to nothing to stop continued Illegal immigration and pandered to the military industrial complex for cheap labor ..then threw the social costs upon the US taxpayer

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