Anthem faces critics at rate hike hearing

Critics of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield protested its request for a nearly 20 percent rate increase for 48,000 individual policyholders during a public hearing chaired by the Connecticut Department of Insurance.

One Anthem customer said the insurer has too often sought rate increases that exceed inflation. Another policyholder, who heads a small business group, said cost increases in other services used by small businesses are not comparable to the "astronomical rate increases" sought by Anthem, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. A cardiologist also testified that materials sent to him and other physicians by Anthem on drug use by their patients often were inaccurate and involved time-consuming surveys that insurers should not be allowed to use to justify additional premium costs, reports the New Haven Register.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal told the panel that he sees no justification for the rate request, notes the Business Journal. "We believe the evidence so far is completely inadequate," he said.

Anthem representative Robert Ruiz-Moss said at the hearing that its rate requests are in line with those of competitors. Costs for hospital care, new technologies, and other high-priced diagnostic services and prescription drugs are increasing, and Anthem owes it to its members to cover those costs and ensure access to a broad network of providers, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.

"Our trends that are specific to this filing may or may not tie exactly to what you see from an overall 33 million member standpoint that covers 14 states, large-group insurance, small-group insurance, self-funded employers--and again our objective and our goal here is to set premiums that are appropriate just for the individual insurance market," Ruiz-Moss said.

The Connecticut Department of Insurance asked Anthem for additional materials to support the rate increase. Anthem has until Nov. 29 to file additional materials; the department will decide to approve, disapprove or modify the rate within 30 days of that deadline, notes Fox CT.

To learn more:
- read the Indianapolis Business Journal article
- see the Fox CT story
- read the New Haven Register article

Related Articles:
Anthem, Blue Cross face hearings on rate hikes
SPOTLIGHT: Anthem Blue Cross faces class-action lawsuit as rate hike decision looms 
Sebelius demands Anthem explain its 'extraordinary' premium hikes 
More state insurers need permission to raise rates