Anthem Backs Off of Some Rate Hikes

By The Associated Press
|  Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011  |  Updated 7:45 AM PDT
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Anthem Backs Off of Some Rate Hikes

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The Anthem Blue Cross headquarters is seen after the health insurer began informing its individual policyholders of rate hikes up to 39 percent to take effect at the beginning of March, on February 9, 2010 in Woodland Hills, California. Anthem Blue Cross, which has the highest number of individual customers in California, raised rates by as much as 68 percent in 2009. Health insurance companies in California can legally raise their rates at any time by as much and as they want. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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Anthem Blue Cross, the largest health plan in California, is reducing and delaying rate hikes - moves the state insurance commissioner says will save policyholders at least $40 million.

Anthem announced Monday that it will put off a planned April premium hike until July, and increases in deductibles and co-payments until next January.

Anthem also says it's reducing the planned premium increase from 9.8 percent to 9.1 percent.

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says when the co-pays and other increases are added in, Anthem's 600,000 policyholders would have found themselves paying 16.4 percent more in the middle of the year and some might have been forced to put off treatment.

The commissioner can't deny rate hikes, but Jones says Blue Shield, Aetna and PacifiCare also have agreed to delays.

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