July 7, 2012: State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Aetna are modifying rate hikes that took effect July 1 for small group policies.
Tens of thousands of small businesses in California collectively will save $48 million on their health insurance bills starting this month now that three insurers have agreed to reduce pending rate hikes.
State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced Friday that Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield Life and Health Co. and Aetna are modifying rate hikes that took effect July 1 for small group policies, covering employers with fewer than 50 people insured.
Anthem Blue Cross withdrew a 2.5% rate hike, saving $25 million for 45,000 policyholders, Jones said. Blue Shield provided a $15-million credit to 58,000 small employers, and Aetna halved its original 2.6% premium hike, saving $8 million for 9,200 employers.
“Lowering health insurance costs for small employers has been and will continue to be a top priority for me,” Jones said in a statement. “I appreciate Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Aetna’s response to my request that they lower their proposed July 1 rate increases on small employers.”
Under California law, the insurance commissioner can review health insurance rate proposals to determine whether they are excessive but does not have the power to deny or modify the rate changes, Jones said.
Jones is supporting a proposed initiative that would give his department the same ability to regulate health insurance rates that it currently has to approve automobile and property coverages. The initiative is likely to appear on the November 2014 ballot.
The rate reduction reflects Blue Shield of California’s “commitment to keeping health coverage affordable,” spokesman Stephen M. Shivinsky said.
Source: John & Rusty Report via Brown & Word