Yes, California health insurers are at it again. The costs of medical care may have only gone up 3.6% last year, but California’s largest health insurers are planning on raising average health insurance rates from 8% to 14% for hundreds of thousands of members with individual health insurance policies. Health insurance premiums have already been rising 20% to 30% annually for the last few years for many California families with individual health insurance policies.
But it looks like health insurance policyholders will have to steel themselves for another year of hikes. Anthem Blue Cross’ proposal is still under review by the California Insurance Commission, but it has proposed raising premiums 9.6% to 13.8% on average, effective May 1 or July 1, for about 700,000 individual policyholders and their families. Kaiser Permanente has already increased premiums 9% on average for nearly 300,000 customers starting last month. And another 300,000 Blue Shield of California will see their rates rise from between 7.9% and 8.9% effective March 1st.
California has developed into a battleground for health insurance rates since before the last presidential election. That was when California health insurance made national headlines when Anthem Blue Cross filed a proposal to increase the health insurance premiums of its individual health insurance policyholders by an average of 20% in California, and some policyholders would have had their health insurance premiums increased by as much as a whopping 39%. Those proposed health insurance premiums stunned a nation, galvanized consumer advocates, and is widely credited with having pushed the struggling healthcare reform bill across the finish line. Anthem Blue Cross was forced to withdraw its original proposal for increased health insurance premiums when an independent actuarial review discovered multiple errors in its filing.
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