On Monday, Anthem Blue Cross announced it will reduce and delay its proposed health insurance rate hike and put off until next year a planned increase to policyholders' copayments and deductibles, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/21).
In January, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) requested that Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield and PacifiCare put their planned rate increases on hold for 60 days while his office examined their proposals.
Last year, Anthem slashed its rate increases nearly in half after a planned 39% rate increase sparked national reaction over high health insurance costs (Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 3/21). Mathematical errors were found in that plan.
Details of New Action
Anthem will adjust a planned rate increase from 16.4% to 9.1% for more than 600,000 individual and family policyholders and delay the date when the increase takes effect from April 1 to July 1.
According to Anthem, increases to copays and deductibles scheduled to take effect April 1 have been postponed until Jan. 1, 2012, in compliance with a request made by Jones (Sacramento Business Journal, 3/21).
In a statement, Jones said Anthem's overall adjustments will save policyholders at least $40 million (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/22).
He renewed a call for state legislation (AB 52) that would grant the insurance commissioner's office the authority to reject excessive rate hikes (Los Angeles Times, 3/21).
Anthem President Pam Kehaly said more work is needed to "control the unrelenting rise of underlying health care costs" (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 3/22). She added, "Our mission is to ensure quality health care for residents of the state at the most affordable price" (AP/Washington Post, 3/21).
Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that Anthem's action to delay and reduce planned rate increases represents "another example of how increased transparency and oversight benefit consumers" (Sacramento Bee, 3/22).