FierceHealthcare FierceHealthIT FierceMobileHealthcare FierceHealthPayer
FierceHealthFinance FierceEMR FiercePracticeManagemtn Hospital Impact

Anthem Blue Cross faces class-action lawsuit as rate hike decision looms

Up to 800,000 individual policy holders with Anthem Blue Cross in California could soon learn whether the health plan will move forward with planned rate increases as high as 39 percent, reports the Los Angeles Times. Anthem had delayed the rate hikes to May 1 in order to await the outcome of a review of its spending practices by Axene Health Partners, an outside actuary appointed by California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Poizner previously has indicated that he would prevent Anthem from instituting the rate increases if Anthem spends less than 70 percent of its premiums on healthcare claims. Axene is expected to release the report within two weeks.

Despite speculation that Anthem might delay the increases by another 30 days or phase in the steepest increases over a period of months, the insurer hasn't discussed such possibilities with the commissioner, according to Anthem parent WellPoint Inc. However, WellPoint acknowledges that a May 1 rate increase is unlikely because Anthem would need more time to notify policy holders about changes.

Anthem and WellPoint defend the planned increases as "actuarially sound." However, the public isn't buying that argument, which isn't too surprising given recent news that WellPoint CEO Angela Braly's 2009 compensation package totaled $13.1 million. A California woman has filed a class-action lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court alleging that Anthem is using rate increases to force individual policyholders to cancel their insurance because these policies aren't profitable enough to suit the insurer, reports the San Mateo County Times. The lawsuit also requests that the court  enforce a temporary injunction to stop Anthem from instituting rate hikes after the actuary report is released. A similar lawsuit was filed in March in Ventura County Superior Court.

For more information on the rate hikes:
- read the Los Angeles Times article

To learn about the lawsuit:
- read the San Mateo County Times article 

Related Articles:
Sebelius demands Anthem explain its 'extraordinary' premium hikes
Anthem Blue Cross takes a grilling in Calif., plans to push forward with rate hikes

Email Twitter Facebook LinkedIn StumbleUpon
Get Your FREE FierceHealthPayer Email Newsletter:
Comments (2) | Post a comment


I don't understand why everyone is so up in arms. This is the system we want. At least it is the system everyone is so concerned about getting rid of.

Health care providers increase their prices, health insurance companies follow suit, and the consumer gets screwed.

That's the way the free market, fee-for-service health care works. If you don't like it, move to Europe, where health care is patient focused not provider insurance focus.

Wake up America!


The extremely patient focused health care providers that I work for have not increased their prices since 2003. In those 7 years, the employees insurance premiums have gone up each year. At the end of 2009, when faced with a 40% increase in premiums from the plan we had, we were forced to move to a different plan. This free-market system is a little more "free" for some than it is for others. None of the guys I work for ever made the Forbes list and never will. Can you help me understand why an arrogant Insurance company CEO is worth a salary over ten times more than a doctor who actually might be saving lives?

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.