Health insurer financial records subpoenaed in rate hike probe

The seven largest health insurance companies in California have until March 8 to deliver subpoenaed financial records and other documents to the state Attorney General Jerry Brown. The records will help determine whether the insurers raised premiums illegally and denied payments for claims, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The prosecutorial efforts come in the wake of the firestorm caused by Anthem Blue Cross's announcement that it would raise premiums for customers with individual policies by as much as 39 percent. 

California Assembly Health Committee Chairman Dave Jones, who earlier this week grilled Anthem Blue Cross officials at a hearing about the rate increases, pushed the issue of subpoenaing records from Anthem, as well as Aetna Health, Blue Shield of California, Cigna, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and PacifiCare. He called the action necessary after Anthem did not provide ample documentation regarding those increases at that hearing. 

"It's unfortunate [Anthem Blue Cross] played games with our original request," Jones said. 

Cigna, Health Net, Kaiser, PacifiCare and Anthem all said that they have yet to receive their subpoenas, with Anthem claiming that they "have been and will continue cooperating." 

This marks the second time Brown's office has served subpoenas to those seven companies. In January, Brown requested records with regards to the practices of those companies' HMOs as part of an investigation of denied insurance claims submitted by doctors and hospitals.

"We have been looking at these companies for a number of months and are very concerned that some of them are unjustly raising premiums and denying payment of legitimate claims," Brown said. "Not only are the rate increases devastating to Californians strapped by the economy, but in some cases, they are possibly illegal." 

To learn more about the subpoenas:
- read this press release
- read this Los Angeles Times article