Blue Shield Of California Says Review Supports Rate Hikes

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Blue Shield of California officials said Tuesday its most recent rate hikes for health insurance policies were not excessive, but a state regulator voiced concern about whether the hikes were necessary.

The San Francisco-based insurer released an actuary’s report showing the hikes meet federal and state standards that dictate how much income from premiums must be spent on medical care.

However, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the latest report doesn’t provide all the information requested by the state regulator.

“This has led to serious concerns about their filing,” said Jones, adding his office will continue to review the rate hike.

Blue Shield will delay its proposed March 1 increase until May 1, pending possible action by the commissioner.

It would be the third such rate hike since Oct. 1 for 200,000 Blue Shield individual policyholders. The insurer has said the hikes are necessary to pay for the rising cost of care and costs brought on through health care reform.

On average, the three increases will boost premiums by 30 percent, with some customers paying as much as 59 percent more for health insurance.

Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based consumer advocacy group, was critical of Blue Shield’s self-review.

“Hiring a consultant to check your math and claiming it’s a legitimate, independent review is laughable,” said the group’s executive director Doug Heller.

(© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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