For California to "fairly" regulate health insurance companies, the insurers have to play "fair." I'm Suzanne Shaw, NBC Bay Area Editorial Director. Anthem Blue Cross, the state's biggest insurer and ours here at NBC Universal is hiking some premiums thirty nine percent. Is this need or greed? The only way to know is to look at the company's books. But critics say Anthem is playing a shell game. This is America, profits are okay, greed and injustice are not. If Anthem's rates are fair, if Californians aren't being gouged, why not play ball? Rising health care premiums are symptoms, we need to treat the disease. We believe it's time for vigorous investigation by the state and sincere transparency by insurance companies. Only then can we understand and solve our health care crisis.
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Anthem Blue Cross Statement:
We have been and will continue to respond to requests from California regulators. In addition, we understand and strongly share our members’ concerns over the rising cost of health care services and the corresponding adverse impact on insurance premiums. Unfortunately, the individual market premiums are merely the symptoms of a larger underlying problem in California’s individual market - rising health care costs. It is important to note that Anthem Blue Cross’s March 1, 2010 Individual Rate Adjustments were for California Department of Insurance regulated plans. While the March 1st rate increases are significant for certain individuals, it is important to note that the rate increases;
Relate only to the individual market;
Reflect estimated medical trend that is rising due to increases in medical cost and adverse selection.
Reflect that Anthem Blue Cross provides coverage in the California HIPAA and MRMIP programs for which rate increases are restricted and whose losses are borne by the individual market.
Even if the rate increases were to have gone into effect on March 1st, the individual business in California was estimated to generate an after-tax operating margin of 1.5%
Even after our proposed rate increase, our products remain competitively priced in the market.
An Independent actuarial firm reviewed our March 1st rate filing (rates were filed with the California Department of Insurance in November 2009), concluding that the March 1 rate increase was actuarially sound and the company’s methodology was reasonable. Anthem Blue Cross has none the less agreed to defer implementation for two months to allow further review.
We, at Anthem, are committed to driving quality in the health care system, improving the lives of not only the members we serve, but also the health of communities all across California. As the state’s largest health benefits company with more than 8 million members, and the state’s largest partner serving more than 1 million low-income Californians under the Medicaid and CHIP programs and more high-risk individuals than any other plan, we are committed and well positioned to help transform health care in the state.