Blue Shield of California will seek to raise premiums on tens of thousands of individual policyholders by as much as 59 percent this year, in what the company says is a move to pay for rising medical costs and expenses associated with new state and federal insurance regulations:
Blue Shield said the cost of health coverage was being driven up by large hospital expenses, doctors’ bills and prescription drug prices. Blue Shield’s Epstein said other factors also contributed to the three increases in five months.
On Oct. 1, he said, Blue Shield imposed increases averaging 18% and as high as 29%. Those hikes had been delayed for three months while state regulators examined Blue Shield’s filing, costing the company tens of millions of dollars.
Epstein said Blue Shield raised rates again Jan. 1 to pay for changes under the national healthcare overhaul and a new state law that bars insurers from charging women more than men. (Some policyholders will pay less under the state gender law, while others will pay more.)
A third round of hikes scheduled for March 1 comes in response to rising healthcare costs, Epstein said. Those increases will average 6.5% and be as high as 18%.
Some policyholders have seen their bills rise gradually over the last five months, while others will see the charges lumped together March 1.