Anthem, Blue Cross face hearings on rate hikes

Amid political discontent and criticism, Anthem and Blue Cross of Connecticut must face public hearings regarding their expected--but not yet proposed--rate increases for 2011.

The rates, which will become effective Jan. 1, have not yet been submitted to the Insurance Department for review. Connecticut law allows the Insurance Department to hold public hearings on rate filings by insurance companies who sell in the state when it finds it necessary or appropriate to protect the public interest, according to the Health Care Examiner. The hearings have yet to be scheduled.

Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan is enduring fierce criticism from state and federal officials since his department signed off on increases last month of as much as 47 percent for some Anthem plans. Sullivan repeatedly said the increases were a direct result of federal health reform. For example, the Anthem plan that increased 46.9 percent now pays for up to $750,000 in prescription drug coverage compared with $500 before the mandated benefits, explains the Hartford Courier.

Meanwhile, the department announced plans to post insurers' rate increases on its website. Up until the most recent rate hikes approved last month, much of the information that health insurers file with the state regulating authority was kept from the public because it is considered proprietary. Now, when an insurer files proposed changes to health plans, it must state explicitly how much premiums will increase for each plan. The information will be available on the Connecticut Insurance Department website, although it's not clear when the site will be reconfigured, reports Fox CT.

To learn more:
- read the Health Care Examiner story
- read the Hartford Courier article
- see the Fox CT article

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