In the wake of Anthem Blue Cross’ cancellation of massive health insurance rate increases in California, state and federal officials are now calling for further investigation into the faulty data that led to proposed health insurance increases of as much as 39% for some health insurance policyholders.
Anthem Blue Cross had announced that health insurance premiums for some 800,000 individual health insurance policyholders would be increased as of March 1st, but due to consumer outrage and public outcry by both state and federal officials, Anthem Blue Cross agreed to delay the increases pending a review of the proposed increases by an independent actuarial firm. Anthem Blue Cross cancelled the controversial health insurance rate hikes before the independent actuarial review was completed, but a spokesman for the California Department of Insurance noted that Anthem Blue Cross had been notified that it was likely that their filing would be found unacceptable due to errors.
The health insurance rate increases originally proposed by Anthem Blue Cross were a lightning rod for the Obama Administration and activists during the healthcare reform debates. Now, the Obama administration has urged other states to reexamine rate hikes proposed by WellPoint.
California state insurance regulators do not have the power to block health insurance rate hikes unless the new premiums do not meet state healthcare spending minimums Under California state insurance law, health insurers are required to spend 70 cents out of every health insurance premium dollar on healthcare. California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner who is campaigning for the Republican nomination to the governor’s office in California, has announced that he is examining the accuracy of claims data used by Anthem to validate subsequent filings as the insurer prepares to submit new rates this month.
“As Anthem readies its new rate filing, I have directed auditors at the Department of Insurance to determine whether the underlying information used by Anthem to prepare these documents is fair and accurate,” Poizner said in a statement. “This review will investigate whether there are problems with their claims-payments systems and data controls. I will not allow insurers to inflate their rates based on faulty systems or inaccurate data.”
Although Wellpoint, Anthem’s Blue Cross’ parent company, has termed the flaws in its state insurance fillings “inadvertent,” but U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has already called for congressional hearings into the errors, “The revelation that WellPoint/Anthem used flawed data to justify its proposed premium rate hikes … merits further investigation. I am skeptical that these errors were completely accidental.”
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