LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blue Shield of California is seeking another round of rate hikes that would mean a cumulative increase averaging over 30 percent over a five-month span for nearly 200,000 policy holders, reports Wednesday said.

Blue Shield Proposes Rate Hike Of Up To 59 Percent, KNX 1070’s Dick Helton Reports

The latest hike was set to take effect March 1 pending approval from California regulators, to go with other increases that took place Oct. 1 and Jan. 1, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Doug Heller with Consumer Watchdog On KNX Newsline

Some 193,000 policyholders would see increases averaging 30 percent to 35 percent if the new increase is approved.

The news astounded many policy holders who are guaranteed the same rate for a year and received notice of all three increases at once.

Tens of thousands of policy holders will see their rates go up more than 50 percent in the same span.

They include Michael Fraser, 53, a freelance advertising writer from San Diego, who recently learned his bill would climb from $271 to $431 — an increase of 59 percent.

“When I tell people, their jaws drop and their eyes bug out,” said Fraser, 53, a freelance advertising writer. “The amount is stunning.”

The San Francisco-based insurer blames the new rates on rising health care costs.

“We raise rates only when absolutely necessary to pay the accelerating cost of medical care for our members,” the company told customers last month.

New California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones can only block the hike under a narrow set of criteria.

He said the growing bills show that the legislature should give his office the ability to regulate health insurance the way it does auto insurance.

“Blue Shield’s increases pose the same problem posed by Anthem Blue Cross last year and other health insurers as well,” Jones said in an interview. “My hope would be that Blue Shield would re-examine these rate hikes.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. Squeezed Worker says:

    Last year they raised our rates. They said it was because they wanted 5% return, which isn’t really that much. Well I can be reasonable. I can certainly understand that they’re in business to make money. But what they gotta understand is that we all already took pay cuts, lost our 401k matching, haven’t had pay raises in years, lost half our workforce so we’re each doing twice as much work, and lost most our budget so we’re doing it all on antique equipment. While my hours are going up and my pay is going down: my rent, my groceries and the fuel in my car are all costing more. The respective vendors are all telling me that they have no choice because their costs are going up. It seems to me that everybody who doesn’t make enough money figures they can come and get it from me. The one I have the least sympathy for is the one that doesn’t actually give me anything (I’m big, strong and healthy and whenever I do have a claim some bureaucratic snarl pukes it back in my face) and is actually making money (just not the required 5%, tough year).

    If we had a choice, I would go to my employer and demand that we switch. But the reason we moved to Blue Shield is because state regulation pushed our old provider out of California. It’s a good thing that the federal government is working on more regulation to fix it. Or wait: maybe more government regulation is exactly the wrong direction.

  2. lala63 says:

    Health insurance companies are nothing but CRIMINALS! For an individual policy I was paying $690 per month last year. I was a healthy, 46 year old woman with no major health issues WHATSOEVER. The deductible on that policy was $1,400! It paid ZERO on Dr. visits and ZERO on medicine (until the $1,400 per year deductible was met! WHAT A DAMN JOKE. Currently I am in a group plan with them. I pay $330 per month and have a deductible of $4,800 per year before they pay anything for Dr visits or medicine. Again, I am a healthy 47 year old woman. Why have they been allowed to get away with this for the last 20 years??? THEY NEED TO GO.

  3. hamsammich says:

    where i come from, you don’t need health insurance/dental insurance to go see the doctor/dentist. therefore you only pay for visits, and not insurance, which you pay for even when you’re not sick! i think i’ll be moving back home soon!

  4. Josh Butts says:

    Man, I am going to leave Blue Cross cuz they jacked up their rates to about $85 more a month. I was going to go to Blue Shield but now their jacking up their rates. Where the heck can you find affordable health insurance?

  5. Sam Davis says:

    I just cancelled my Blue Cross insurance because I can’t afford to pay it anymore, it just increased end of last year. It’s just too much!!

    1. Jim Slaten says:

      They got us too…Me and my wife are in our 60’s and we couldn’t afford Blue Cross anymore….You are not alone!!

  6. Small Business says:

    Since 2003 I have used Blue Shield for medical and dental insurance for my small business; just my wife and I. Our monthly premium was $800 for PPO medical and dental. Every year Blue Shield has jacked up our rates by 10% or more. We were due to renew in September of 2010 but the monthly premium was over $1400 a month with reduced plan changes. We switched to Health Net to lower our premium and continue our health care coverage. How can a extremely large non-profit company like Blue Shield of California continue to do this unchecked. Where are our State and Federal official? I know the Feds are busy ready the Constitution instead of applying it. Jerry Brown you need to go after these guys.

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