Just as Congress applies the brakes to healthcare overhaul, California’s largest for-profit insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, reminds us why the federal government needed to get into the driver’s seat in the first place. The Los Angeles Times reports the health insurer will raise its prices March 1 for its 800,000 individual-coverage policyholders. See “Anthem Blue Cross dramatically raises rates for Californians with individual health policies.”
These premium adjustments, some customers say, amount to as much as a 39 percent increase. A San Rafael family, after doing the math, determined their health premiums will surpass their monthly mortgage payment. And that’s not all. Anthem informed its policyholders they could expect such adjustments at least every 12 months, or “more frequently in accordance with the terms of your health benefit plan.”
Under California law, health insurers can increase premiums whenever they want if they notify the state Department of Insurance and prove they are spending at least 70 percent of the premiums on health care. California Insurance Commission and Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner is “very concerned” about the rate increases, reports the Times, and is planning an independent investigation to ensure Anthem complies with state law. But as usual, this may be too little and too late.
Insurance brokers say that this increase is the largest they have seen so far. Mark Weiss, a Century City podiatrist and Anthem member for 30 years thinks “it’s just unconscionable.”