Anthem hikes premiums by half of requested amount

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine is increasing premiums on its individual policies by an average of 5.3 percent--rather than the 9.7 percent increase requested by the company earlier this year, reports the Bangor Daily News.

Maine Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman found that Anthem's proposed increases, which were filed in February, were "excessive and unfairly discriminatory" and would have resulted in $2 million profits in the individual market alone, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

By reducing the allowed rate hikes to 5.3 percent, Kofman also reduced Anthem's profit margin to about $600,000. The lower rate would give Anthem a risk and profit margin of 1 percent, a drop from the 3 percent margin Anthem sought, notes Mainebiz Daily.

Over the past two years, Anthem has butted heads with the state's insurance superintendent over its proposed increases. In September, Kofman granted the company a 14 percent hike, less than its requested 23 percent increase for its 2010 rates. In 2009, Kofman denied Anthem an 18.1 percent increase, instead granting a 10.9 percent hike. Last month, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Anthem's appeal of that decision, Mainebiz Daily reports.

Since purchasing Maine's nonprofit Blue Cross program in 1999, Anthem has realized profits of more than $15 million from its individual coverage plans alone, notes the Bangor Daily News.

An Anthem spokesman said the company is reviewing the ruling.

To learn more:
- read the Bangor Daily News story
- check out the Mainebiz Daily article
- read the Maine Public Broadcasting Network piece