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California Blue Shield Hikes Health Insurance Rates

The US Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) opposes a major health insurance rate hike by Blue Shield of California. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released this statement, “The people of California have a right to be concerned when they see this kind of rate increase month after month. We have reached out to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and know he is doing everything in his power to help consumers. We stand ready to assist him and the people of California in any way that we can.” The HHS cites that the new healthcare law, The Affordable Care Act, will allow California more power to review the rate hike. Sebelius notes that it expands rate review programs, “oversight and transparency when insurers propose significant rate increases.”

California State law limits the power of the California Insurance Commissioner to control rate hikes by health insurance companies. Blue Shield plans to raise insurance rates approximately 35 percent in addition to two other recent rate hikes. In total, some Californians will see an increase of up to 60 percent in their health care premiums from 2010 to 2011.

Blue Shield has released a statement that the rate hikes are unrelated to the Affordable Care Act. Blue Shield notes that the rate hikes in California are due to increased medical costs.