WHAT: California insurance regulators approved Anthem Blue Cross rate hikes as high as 20 percent for nearly 800,000 individual California policyholders. A nonprofit competitor, Blue Shield of California, was cleared for rate increases as high as 29 percent for 250,000 individual policyholders.
WHY: Regulators said they couldn’t stop the increases because the latest filings met the requirement that 70 percent of premiums must be spent for medical care. An even larger 39 percent increase was canceled in March after a public uproar about major math errors in the paperwork.
THE EXCUSE: A Blue Shield spokesman said, “We wish the increases were smaller, but the cost of medical care for our members keeps rising dramatically. These increases are necessary to cover those costs.” The raises only apply to individual buyers, not anyone covered in employee group policies.