Insurance rate hearing held
Anthem increase almost 20 percent

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

BY The Cincinnati Enquirer

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Theresa Feldman has paid her health insurance premiums for 30 years. Earlier this year, she got a letter from Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield saying her rates were going from $130 per month to $317.

Ms. Feldman, a nurse, was shocked.

"As a health-care provider myself, I feel like this is an outrage," she said Tuesday at a public hearing on the rate increase conducted by the Department of Insurance.

An Anthem lawyer said the increase, which works out to about 19.8 percent for the countless kinds of individual policies covered by the new rates, is "justified and reasonable."

Anthem has not had a rate increase for some time, and the money is needed to ensure the company's ability to cover claims, said Brenda Renner. "Everyone needs to know that their insurance companies are going to be able to pay their claims," Ms. Renner said.

The department, which has the authority to deny the rate increase, agrees. "We are tentatively recommending approval," said insurance department lawyer Robin Gwinn.

Anthem has about 52,000 policies covering about 79,000 people that would have higher rates under the proposal.

The attorney general's office, which requested the hearing, said the increase is not justified. Dennis Howard said Anthem raised its rates because its only competitor in the individual market, Humana, also raised its rates.

"Each filing must stand on its own," Mr. Howard said.

He said the company did not adequately consider what the rate increase would mean to individual policyholders.



Local Headlines For Wednesday, December 16, 1998

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