Posts Tagged - ‘Anthem Blue Cross’

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Are Child-Only Health Insurance Plans Falling By The Wayside?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Image: Pink Sherbet Photography under CC 3.0

Several health insurers, including Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross, will soon stop selling dedicated health insurance plans to children. These plans often appeal to parents who believe they cannot afford health insurance for the entire family, but decide to sacrifice for the sake of their kids. Still, children’s health insurance is a relatively small market by itself.

They blame newly effective provisions of the healthcare reform law that prevent them from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, which means that those plans will no longer be cost-effective for them to offer.

Which states will lose this option? So far, they are:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • Colorado
  • Arizona

Although there is a legitimate argument for the moral hazard of allowing adults with pre-existing conditions to forgo paying into the system when they are healthy and joining when they are sick, children have no choice in the matter. (The individual mandates that discourage this practice won’t go into effect until 2014–and may not survive a Supreme Court challenge.) Furthermore, unlike adults, children never contribute to their own health status by choice.

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State Insurance Experts Question Obama’s Plan

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Mr. Obama says health insurance companies should not be allowed to raise premium costs at will. As part of his plan, the President would block excessive rate increases. But exactly what rates should classify as excessive? Some state officials are worried about how they will determine which companies rates are too high.

State officials are concerned they would be left to police health insurance companies while federal officials pressured insurers to reduce premiums, as Mr. Obama has done in recent days.

The President and White House officials have been asking medical insurance companies to be more transparent about why they increase health insurance premiums. However, insurers are often hesitant about to oblige.

As an example, Mr. Obama has pointed to a request by Anthem Blue Cross to increase premiums for individual policyholders in California by an average of 25 percent, with some rates going up as much as 39 percent.

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Anthem Blue Cross Health Insurance Sued By Consumers

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

(Image: umjanedoan under CC 3.0)

The proposed health insurance rate increases by Anthem Blue Cross in California have been extremely controversial nationwide. Now, a consumer protection group has filed a lawsuit against the health insurer.

The group, known as Consumer Watchdog, claims that Anthem and its parent company WellPoint violated state law by leaving members with pre-existing conditions in closed policies–while preventing new members from joining certain health insurance plans. When Anthem then decided to jack up premiums, those people had nowhere to turn.

There is little competition, because people with pre-existing conditions can’t shop around for individual health insurance from other providers. Instead, they must either settle for inferior coverage and higher deductibles or pay more for the same coverage. Anthem Blue Cross’ actions may be considered an anticompetitive practice due to a provision in the California health and safety code, which requires health insurance companies to either expand the risk pool or offer a comparable alternative to closed plans.

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Anthem Blue Cross Hikes Rates By A Third In California

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
One of California’s biggest health insurance carriers, Anthem Blue Cross, will increase¬† its individual health insurance premiums by nearly 40 percent starting next month.

The announcement came within hours of the Obama Administration’s call for Congressional Republicans and members of his own party to meet at the White House for a televised summit on moving forward with health care reform. President Obama appeared to use the announcement as political proof that health care reform is “essential,” while his Secretary of Health and Human Services denounced the insurance carrier in a statement later in the say.

“As we continue the health insurance reform debate in Washington, this announcement reminds us that too many Americans can be left with unaffordable insurance each time the rates of rules change in the private market,” said Sebelius. “It’s clear that we need health insurance reform that will give American families the secure, affordable coverage they need.”

Meanwhile back in Anthem’s home state, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner publicly scathed the company and urged individuals looking for affordable health insurance plans to compare rates with other carriers. Poizner said he was “Alarmed” by the larger-than-expected rate increase and said his department would examine Anthem’s actions in the coming days.

Health insurance is regulated in the individual states where they are sold. In Calfornia, state law requires that health insurance companies spend at least 70 percent of every dollar earned from their premiums on medical care. Poizner said he has hired an outside actuary to review Anthem’s increase “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 being these rates down.”

Complicating Anthem’s justification for the increase, its parent company, Wellpoint Inc. announced it had earned $2.7 billion during the previous business quarter. Neither Anthem nor Wellpoint made a public statement to the news media about its rate plan at the time this story was published.

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