Insurers Continue Seeking Wary Regulator's Approval For Rate Hikes

The Boston Globe: For most Massachusetts insurers, a standoff with regulators over premium rate increase was left unresolved Thursday evening. Rate caps were maintained — freezing premiums at 2009 rates — for 137 health insurance plans. Three plans were told to supply more information to justify increases. "At the same time, four other insurance companies were given approval for single-digit rate increases for 63 plans sold in the so-called small group market, which covers individuals and small businesses. Regulators said those insurers showed more restraint than they did in the past." Earlier this year, state insurance regulators rejected 235 of 272 requests to increase premiums (Weisman, 7/1).

The Associated Press/Boston Herald: "The division approved the rate filings for Aetna, ConnectiCare, Neighborhood Health Plan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state's largest private insurer. It is requesting more information on proposed rate hikes from Fallon Community Health Plan, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Blue Shield HMO Blue." Harvard Pilgrim, the second biggest insurer in the state, had a week earlier appealed the initial rate increase rejections (7/1).

Reuters: On the other side of the country, "[h]ealth insurer WellPoint … has filed for a 14 percent average premium rate increase for its individual plans in California, after it pulled its initial request when errors were found. WellPoint's initial rate request for an average 25 percent increase for about 600,000 policyholders drew heavy criticism earlier this year from Democrats as they rallied support for the recently passed U.S. health care reform law" (Krauskopf, 7/1).

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