SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Many insurance companies plan to increase their premiums ahead of state and federal reforms that take effect with the new year.

A California law kicks in Jan. 1 that puts an end to so-called gender rating, where women are often charged higher rates than men because statistically women use health insurance more in the short term.

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Insurers are anxious to act because of a provision in the president’s health care bill that will eventually give regulators more latitude to reject unjustified increases, said Dr. Brian Liang, director of the Institute for Health Law Studies at California Western Law School in San Diego.

“Between now and then is the time for insurers to really push their rates to be increased,” he said.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

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Blue Shield said its rates would go up more than four percent because of a new requirement that more than 80 percent of premiums be spent on medical care.

Other insurers are looking at premium hikes to cover the cost of children now allowed under federal changes passed in March to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

“Certainly some of that increase is justified, but I think some of it also is on the basis of get while the getting’s good,” Liang said.

The tighter control of rate increases starts in 2014.

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