Monday, August 17, 2009

Blue Cross of Michigan to raise individual, group rates by 22 percent

In MI., Blue Cross raising individual, group rates 22 pct.

Insurer originally sought 56 percent rate hike, but regulators refused

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Michigan insurance regulators have approved a 22 percent increase for group and individual Blue Cross Blue Shield health policies in the state, according to reports published Thursday.

“Blue Cross officials have said they need rate increases to help cover $133 million in financial losses in 2008 on its individual health insurance policies,” reported Crain’s Detroit Business.

Blue Cross originally sought to raise individual rates by 56 percent and group rates by 41 percent. Its proposed rate increases were initially rejected by the state’s Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, which negotiated the still-significant hikes.

The new rates, set to take effect October 1, will affect 163,000 policies.

Blue Cross is also awaiting a September 14 hearing on its proposed 33 percent rate hike for senior citizens, according to Detroit Free Press.

Free Press adds:

Monthly premiums for some of Blue Cross’ most popular plans would be increased this way:

• Young Adult Blue PPO, now $47.14 a month and will be increased 4.5% to $49.30.

• Individual Care Blue between the ages of 40-44 was $230.30 and will increase 28.2% to $296.67.

• Non-group Option C, for people who once had workplace coverage, was $361.42 and will go up 21.3% to $438.86.

• Group Conversion Individual Care Blue for an individual between the ages of 40-44 was $238.72 and will be increased 11.3% to $265.72.

• Group conversion Option C was $233.60 and will go up 24% to $289.75.

“The state’s insurance commissioner also approved an interim increase of 4.7 percent on Blue Cross’s supplemental Medicare policies, known as Medigap, which will affect more than 200,000 seniors in Michigan,” added Detroit News.

“In 2007, 11.6 percent of Michigan’s total population was uninsured, while 13 percent of Michigan’s non-elderly population was uninsured,” reported the state’s Department of Community Health (PDF link). “Michigan is ranked 11th among the states in having a low percentage of uninsured residents…”

The agency added that black and Latino Americans living in Michigan were almost twice as likely to be without insurance than Whites.

According to an article carried by the Michigan State University Library, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox took exception to the proposed increases, saying Blue Cross should cover its losses with its current $2.4 billion surplus.

The news comes just one day after Health Care Service Corporation — which runs Blue Cross Blue Shield — announced it would cut 650 jobs from offices in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois and New Mexico in anticipation of the government’s new health care reforms.

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