Md. Insurer Proposes 25% Rate Hike Because Of Health Reform

The state's largest insurer -- CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield -- wants to raise rates for individuals buying coverage on their own in order to offset the cost of the health law requiring that insurers accept patients with pre-existing conditions.

Kaiser Health News: Maryland Offers Glimpse At Obamacare Insurance Math
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jay Hancock reports: "In the latest preview of prices for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Maryland's dominant insurer says proposed premiums for new policies for individuals will rise by 25 percent on average next year. That's lower than what some had predicted. Just three weeks ago, the insurer, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, had been looking at a proposed 50 percent increase. But the company revised that initial estimate, citing worries about affordability for consumers" (Hancock, 4/24).

Baltimore Sun: CareFirst Proposed 25 Percent Rate Increase Under Health Care Reform
Blaming the cost to implement health care reform, the state's largest health insurer has proposed eye-popping rate increases to state regulators for individuals and small businesses. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates an average of 25 percent on those who buy coverage individually. Chet Burrell, the insurer's CEO, said the increase was needed to cover the cost of more sick people who will be joining the insurance rolls under health care reform. People with pre-existing conditions were denied coverage prior to health care reform, keeping insurance costs down (Walker, 4/24).

The Washington Post: With Health Law Looming, One Large Insurer Wants A 25 Percent Premium Hike
Maryland's biggest health insurer proposed raising premiums for individual policies by an average of 25 percent next year, saying that President Obama's health law would require it to accept even the sickest applicants, driving up costs. The CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield plan must be approved by the state, and officials immediately indicated that there would be close scrutiny of the double-digit boost (Kliff and Somashekhar, 4/24).

In other insurer news -

Los Angeles Times: WellPoint Posts 3% Profit Gain And Raises Full-Year Outlook
Insurance giant WellPoint Inc. reported a 3 percent increase in first-quarter profit and raised its full-year outlook as the company prepares for major changes under the federal health care overhaul. WellPoint, which runs Anthem Blue Cross in California and health plans in 13 other states, said its results were lifted by a recent acquisition that helped boost enrollment of the nation's second-largest health insurer to nearly 36 million people (Terhune, 4/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: WellPoint's 1st Quarter Profit Rises 3 Percent, Health Insurer Raises 2013 Forecast
WellPoint shares hit their highest level since the summer of 2011 on Wednesday after the nation's second largest health insurer trumped first-quarter earnings expectations, raised its 2013 forecast and said it could profit immediately from a key health care overhaul coverage expansion next year (4/24).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.