Poizner Speaks out on Anthem Blue Cross Rate Increase
Today California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner’s office shot a press-release-type email to all licensed California health insurance agents commenting on the recent Anthem Blue Cross rate increases scheduled for 3/1/2010. He wrote:
“IA>?,??,>m alarmed by the Anthem Blue Cross health insurance rate hikes, especially in a time when the recession has forced so many people into the individual health insurance market. State law requires that insurers spend at least 70 cents of every dollar of premium on medical care. I have instructed my department to hire an outside actuary to examine their rates line by line to ensure they are complying with this state law. If we find that their rates are excessive, I will use the full power of my office to bring these rates down.”
While I commend Mr. Poizner’s commitment to keeping prices low, I need one thing clarified. Since health insurance companies have to get all rate actions reviewed by the state before they can increase rates, wasn’t he aware of these new rates before today? When was he exactly “alarmed?” Was it when he learned of the new rate or when it became a news issue? We knew about these proposed rate hikes weeks ago.
Our California Insurance Commissioner should make sure that all increases to health insurance are justified and we are anxious to learn who or what is behind the rapidly increasing rates at Anthem. I hope, however, that in the future that cost issues are his active goal, not just a reactionary response that looks good in the papers.