SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — More than half a million Californians who are covered by Anthem Blue Cross could see a massive rate hike early next year.

A Bay Area family told CBS 5 they feel powerless after learning about the rate increase.

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“In the stack of mail was an Anthem envelope saying, ‘Open immediately. Important information about your plan,’” said pediatrician Dr. Jan Maisel.

Her individual Anthem Blue Cross insurance premium is about to go up nearly 25 percent, an extra $296 a month. Her husband’s rates will go up about 24 percent. Together, they will pay an extra $528 a month starting in February.

“A 25 percent increase. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I could hardly eat. I couldn’t sleep,” Maisel said.

CBS 5 asked Blue Cross about the rate increase. Spokesperson Darrel Ng said in a statement, “A rate adjustment is necessary to cover increasing medical costs and ensure the viability of our individual business.”

“I found myself at midnight last night asking the question, ‘Why isn’t the Insurance Commissioner protecting us. Why aren’t we getting help with this?’” Maisel said.

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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said he wants the power to stop unreasonable rate increases, but does not have that authority over insurance companies.

“Consumers who buy their policies in the individual market have seen double-digit rate increases year after year,” said Insurance Deputy Commissioner Janice Rocco.

About 620,000 Californians could see their premiums rise as much as 25 percent. Rocco said premiums aren’t the only things to worry about.

“The deductibles are going up at the same time,” Rocco said. “And some of the out-of-pocket costs are going up at the same time, which means that the people who pay these premiums are going to be less likely to use the policy.”

Insurance Commissioner Jones said he has tried to pass a state bill that would allow his office to protect Californians from excessive rate hikes for the past six years. Each time the bill failed. Jones has already qualified a ballot initiative in 2014 that would give his office the power to veto rate increases when necessary.

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