Health Insurance (ANTHEM RAISES RATES)
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which covers nearly one in three state residents, on Monday proposed raising some health insurance policy rates by as much as 32 percent.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and a legal representative of the state's Heathcare Advocate office both argued against the proposal during a daylong hearing before the state Department of Insurance.
Blumenthal called Anthem ( ATH - news - people )'s request "a rate increase that will be catastrophic, not only for our consumers but for our economy."
Anthem asked the Insurance Department for permission to raise rates by 20 to 32 percent - averaging 23.4 percent - beginning Oct. 1.
"A timely rate increase reflecting emerging claim experiences should help to mitigate a higher rate increase in the future," said George Siriotis, regional vice president of individual sales.
Anthem representatives argued that the company needs more money to cover rising claim costs triggered by longer hospital stays, new and expensive prescription drugs, advanced technologies and an aging population. The company said wasteful health care spending, defensive medicine, unnecessary hospital admissions and medical errors are also driving up costs.
Anthem representatives said the "volatility" of claim costs made it impossible to determine how much the company would make in profits with the proposed rate increases.
Representatives also said they didn't have estimates on how many current insurance clients might forgo health insurance altogether if the company's rates increase.
Seven members of the public spoke, all against the price increases. Two witnesses brought by Blumenthal and Vicki Veltri, the state's Heathcare Advocate general counsel, both said they couldn't afford insurance if the price went up.
The Insurance Department plans to issue a decision within 30 days, according to spokeswoman Dawn McDaniel. If the request is approved, members will be notified by mail 30 to 45 days before the rate increases, Anthem representatives said
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