Anthem Blue Cross and the California insurance commissioner have been sparring publicly over the insurer's request to raise premiums, which the state has deemed "unreasonable."
Commissioner Dave Jones accused Anthem of inflating projected medical costs and improperly including reform-related fees that won't be implemented until 2014 into its proposed 10.6 percent rate hike affecting up to 284,000 members, Bloomberg reported. "Anthem Blue Cross's return on equity or profit has been and continues to be excessive," Jones said.
But Anthem shot back, saying it "strongly disagrees" with Jones' estimates. Spokesman Darrel Ng said rates are only increasing an average of 7.5 percent for 52,400 members, reported The Sacramento Bee.
"The rate increases in the small group market are not unique to Anthem Blue Cross, but rather represent an economic reality faced throughout the entire industry as healthcare costs continue to escalate faster than our state's economy as a whole," Ng said.
Jones estimated Anthem is including within its premium increases more than $500,000 worth of fees that won't be imposed by the federal government until next year. But Anthem claimed that since many of its policies extend into 2014, it's not improper to start charging the fees now, the Los Angeles Times reported.