Regence BlueShield – WA Seeks Premium Increases

Regence BlueShield has requested an increase in the average premiums that will raise rates an average of 14.7 percent, for individuals, families, and small groups, depending on factors such as age, number of dependents and the specifics of their particular benefit plan.

Regence BlueShield president Jonathan Hensley predicts a loss of $4.5 million in 2012.

The statement continues that its capital reserves provide a safety net for members against unknown risks and costs, as well as money needed to finance to finance initiatives. Using money to buy down rates promotes a false sense of reducing health-care costs. The cost of health care goes up because medical costs go up.

But according to Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler, the state’s three largest insurance companies,  Premera Blue Cross, Group Health Cooperative, and Regence BlueShield, hold reserves exceeding $2.4 billion, more than what insurance companies are required under law.

WA state insurers such as Regence BlueShield, Premera, and Group Health Cooperative, while accumulating growing cash reserves, maintain they are wary of the fallout from federal health care changes, and say they’re simply trying to make sure they survive what those changes may bring.

According to Kreidler, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon withdrew a 6.4 percent increase request Wednesday after state review and subsequent objections. “Any future rate request will face the same thorough scrutiny,” Kreidler said.

Kreidler has 60 days to consider Regence BlueShield’s request.

If approved by Kriedler the increase would go into effect Oct 1 and last through Dec 31, 2013.

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