Anthem, Regence denied rate hike requests


The Connecticut Insurance Department has rejected a 20 percent rate hike proposed by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, calling the request "excessive," according to the Hartford Courant.

The department's analysis upheld many of the assumptions made by Anthem to justify an increase, but not the claims trend. That trend saw increases of between 10 percent and 12 percent in 2009, but it was down to 4.1 percent for the 12 months ending in June 2010. Anthem had used a 12.5 percent trend to justify its pricing, which was deemed "excessive." Therefore, the department determined Anthem had not justified any rate increase for 2011, notes the New Haven Register.

"This rate hike rejection is virtually unprecedented--a flat total denial," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. "The department did what it's supposed to do, but often has not: set rates based on facts."

In response, Anthem said it is reviewing the ruling. "The increasing demand for medical services, including the use of new, expensive prescription drugs, and demand for advanced technologies are driving up the cost of healthcare at an unprecedented rate. Anthem remains committed to our individual market segment customers and to finding ways to manage health care costs."  

Meanwhile, the Washington Department of Insurance denied Regence BlueShield and its related companies, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and Asuris Northwest Health, their rate increase requests. The rejected increases were 3.7 percent for Regence and Asuris and 4.9 percent for the Oregon company's plans. Regence must prove that the change is "revenue neutral," Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, told the Seattle Times. "They failed to do that."

Rachelle Cunningham, Regence spokeswoman, told the Times that "we believe our rates are actuarially sound and will follow the appropriate process to understand the [insurance department's] concerns and work toward approval."

To learn more:
- see the Hartford Courant story
- read the Hartford Business Journal article
- view the New Haven Register piece
- see the Seattle Times story

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