Insurers urge state to enhance rate review program

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Since the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) began reviewing health insurers' rate increases to determine whether they're unreasonable, insurers in Arizona have been urging the state insurance department to enhance its own rate review program, reported the Tuscon Citizen. HHS already has posted detailed rate information on 32 insurers in Arizona planning to raise rates from 14 to 44 percent this year. Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, for example, plans to increase rates by 44 percent for small business owners and 21 percent for individuals. But Cigna and other Arizona insurers don't want to submit duplicate paperwork to both the federal and state governments when increasing rates. Under Arizona law, health insurers that sell policies to individuals still must submit paperwork to the Department of Insurance, detailing proposed rate changes.

"Local oversight from the Arizona Department of Insurance is an important protection and takes into consideration the local market forces that Beltway regulators are not in a position to assess," said Regena Frieden, a spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. The state insurance department currently is investigating how to improve its rate review process. Article