Regence 9.6% rate hike not justified, consumer group says

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon hasn't sufficiently justified its need to raise premiums by an average 9.6 percent for individual policies, says a consumer advocacy group that contracts with the state insurance department to analyze rate hikes.

Although Regence said its 9.6 percent hike is necessary to help cover an estimated 10.1 percent rise in its medical and prescription drug costs, the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) analysis found the insurer hasn't provided enough information to support those projections, reported the Associated Press.

The proposed rate hikes, which would affect more than 52,000 consumers, could be as high as 16.4 percent in some cases. Regence also wants to increase its lower-deductible plans' out-of-pocket costs to $2,500, the Statesman Journal reported.

"Consumers are fed up with paying more and more and getting less and less," said Jesse O'Brien, healthcare advocate with OSPIRG. "We found that a family of four with one of these plans could face as much as $56,520 or more in out-of-pocket costs in addition to premium in case of significant illness. These costs are potentially debilitating for Oregon families."

The Oregon insurance department is still considering the rate hike. If they find Regence's justification isn't supported by solid evidence, they could require the insurer to rework its proposal or deny the request altogether,  Live Insurance News  reported.

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- check out the Statesman Journal article
- see the Live Insurance News article
- read the OSPIRG analysis