Sebelius calls on Anthem Blue Cross to justify its premium increases.

Health Insurance Rate Hikes

The Los Angeles Times (2/9, Helfand) reports, “The Obama administration called on Anthem Blue Cross on Monday to justify its controversial new rate hikes of as much as 39% for individual policyholders, saying the increases were alarming at a time when subscribers are facing skyrocketing healthcare costs.” HHS Secretary Sebelius “voiced serious concern over the rates,” which “have triggered widespread criticism from Anthem members and brokers.” Sebelius is quoted as having written: “I was very disturbed to learn through media accounts that Anthem Blue Cross plans to raise premiums for its California customers by as much as 39%. These extraordinary increases are up to 15 times faster than inflation and threaten to make healthcare unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of Californians.”

According to the Washington Post (2/9, MacGillis), “The unusual salvo offers a reminder that, even as healthcare legislation lies in limbo in Washington, the battle over surging health care costs continues in other venues.” The Post notes that California insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, “who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination,” said “his department was investigating the increases.” The Post also reports that Anthem Blue Cross “rel[ies] more than many other insurers on the individual market and [has] been among the most aggressive in resisting the national legislation.”

Courtesy: AMA Morning Rounds

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