During a press conference on Tuesday, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) said that Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance has enacted an "unreasonable" rate increase that will affect more than 250,000 small business policyholders, the Sacramento Bee reports (Glover, Sacramento Bee, 1/9).
State officials do not have the authority to block the increase from taking effect (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 1/9).
Jones said small business policyholders will see an average annual increase of 10.6% under the rate hike that took effect Jan. 1. He said that the average increase over two years will be 19.5% (Sacramento Bee, 1/9).
Jones said that a review of Anthem's rate hike filing showed that the actuarial base was too high and that the increase is "excessive." (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 1/8).
According to Jones, Anthem implemented the hike despite evidence of a "21% return on equity" and the commissioner's personal request to delay the increase.
Darrell Ng, an Anthem spokesperson, said the insurer "strongly disagrees" with Jones' findings.
He said that the average increase for about 52,400 policyholders is 6.5%.
According to Ng, the average increase is about 7.5% when benefit changes are considered, with an average increase of 12.1% over two years.
He said that the Department of Insurance apparently combined various policies into one pool and calculated too high of an estimate, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 1/9).
On Tuesday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on Jones' comments on the Anthem rate hike (Quinton, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/8).
For more information on Jones' comments on the rate hike, read today's Capitol Desk.