Anthem Blue Cross today announced rate increases significantly lower than their previous request. As you may remember, the state’s largest insurer proposed rate increases up to 39%–increases that got presidential level attention during our national debate on health reform. They eventually had to withdraw them when an independent actuarial review of the rate filing was found to have math errors.
Today, Anthem Blue Cross came back with their revised filing–with rate increases averging 14%, up to 20%.
The reduction shows that public scrutiny and regulatory oversight matters. When Anthem Blue Cross didn’t think their rate hike would be reviewed, they raised rates up to 39% and didn’t even bother to check the math. When Anthem Blue Cross knew their rate filing would get public attention and would need to be justified to regulators, they came back with a significantly lower increase.
This episode is Exhibit A in why we need to institute greater rate review and regulation, as the rule, rather than the exception. Bills like Senator Feinstein’s rate authority bill in Congress, and measures at the state level like Assemblyman Jones’ bill AB2578 for rate regulation, Senator Leno’s SB1163 to draw down federal funds for rate review, and other measures.
To provide some oversight, Health Access supports these bills. We also sponsor the website http://www.sickofbluecross.com/, to spotlight the practices of Wellpoint, which recently was named by CNNMoney as the #4 “most hateable company” along with the likes of Goldman Sachs and BP.