Modern Healthcare - - Modern Healthcare -

AN­THEM BACKS DOWN / An­them Blue Cross of Cal­i­for­nia with­drew its pro­posal to raise premi­ums for in­di­vid­ual pol­i­cy­hold­ers by up to 39%.

An­them Blue Cross of Cal­i­for­nia with­drew a pro­posal to raise pre­mium rates up to 39% on in­di­vid­ual pol­i­cy­hold­ers. The Wel­lPoint sub­sidiary sub­mit­ted to the Cal­i­for­nia In­surance Depart­ment last Novem­ber its in­tent to raise rates on 800,000 Cal­i­for­nia mem­bers by an av­er­age of 25% and up to 39% start­ing in March. The rate in­crease drew fire from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and spurred con­gres­sional hear­ings in Fe­bru­ary. An­them Blue Cross sus­pended the rate in­crease un­til May while an in­de­pen­dent ac­tu­ary con­ducted a re­view of the rate ap­pli­ca­tion. The ac­tu­ar­ial firm, Ax­ene Health Part­ners, found five er­rors in the in­surer’s rate ap­pli­ca­tion, in­clud­ing in­ac­cu­rate trend in­for­ma­tion for fore­cast­ing fu­ture med­i­cal costs, ac­cord­ing to a sum­mary re­leased by the state. Cal­i­for­nia In­surance Com­mis­sioner Steve Poizner called the er­rors “sub­stan­tial.” An­them Blue Cross of Cal­i­for­nia will re-file its rate ap­pli­ca­tion this month. The Wood­land Hills-based in­surer said in a state­ment that a re­quire­ment in the new health re­form law ef­fec­tive Jan­uary 2011 that in­sur­ers spend at least 80% of pre­mium dol­lars on med­i­cal care also spurred the de­ci­sion. Mean­while, the in­dus­try moved to stop rescis­sions of pa­tient cov­er­age (See story, p. 8).

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