Anthem, Aetna Keep Policyholders’ Heads Spinning Over Insurance Rate Hikes

Anthem Blue Cross submitted new rate increases for as much as 20 percent to the California Department of Insurance less than a week after Aetna Inc. cancelled its plans for an average 19 percent rate increase for individual policyholders because of “miscalculation” errors, reports the Los Angeles Times. See “Anthem Blue Cross Again Seeks Rate Hikes for Californians.” Anthem had previously withdrawn a nearly 40 percent rate increase earlier in the year when independent actuaries discovered errors in its accounting that violated California law. See “Anthem Blue Cross Raises Premiums – and Ire – of Individual Policyholders.”
Anthem’s parent company Wellpoint made $877 million in the first quarter of 2010, a 51 percent increase from the same time last year. Its chief strategy officer Brad Fluegel must have neglected to read the company financials, however. He told the Times, “The rates do not cover our costs and are not going to be sustainable over the long term, but it makes sense to move ahead. Given the environment, it was in the best interest of everyone to get this behind us and move forward.”

Whose best interests is Fluegel contemplating? Certainly not his policyholders’ interests.

“It is clearly time for stricter oversight of the methods health insurance companies use to calculate premium rate increases,” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said.

We agree, and that’s why we are endorsing Dave Jones for California Insurance Commissioner. As a California Assemblymember Jones introduced legislation designed to help consumers fight insurers who delay and deny benefits or unlawfully rescind coverage. As Insurance Commissioner, Jones will be the advocate policyholders need to keep insurers accountable to their customers. For more information about Dave Jones, log on to www.davejones2010.com.

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