Blue Shield of California Cancels Premium Rate Hike

A recent health insurance premium hike request has been withdrawn by Blue Shield of California, citing a need to keep coverage affordable for its members. The withdrawal will keep members from paying an average of 6.5 percent more to maintain their coverage.

Plan Won’t Raise Rates During Tough Economic Times

A statement released on Thursday by Blue Shield of California’s president Bruce Bodaken said that since the company is not-for-profit, its mission is to always provide Californians with access to “quality health care at an affordable price.”

He went on to say the company’s agreement to not ask for the premium increase would help make coverage more affordable for its 340,000 members during tough economic times. “It’s a financial risk for us, but a risk that’s worth taking,” he said.

The proposed increase would have been the plan’s third in less than a year. While the premium hike that could have reached as high as 59 percent for some policyholders was expected to take effect on March 1, the plan now says it won’t raise premium rates for any individual or group policyholders for the remainder of the year.

Some Premiums Could Still Change

While the plan says it won’t increase rates, Bodaken noted that some Blue Shield members will see their premiums change in 2011 if they move to a new region. Also, if they add or remove family members from their policies, premium increases or decreases are bound to occur.

Another change for policyholders to look out for is if they enter a new age bank. Blue Shield says it changes rates based on age every five years, at the time of the member’s birthday.

The plan president acknowledged that premium rates could indeed increase again due to rising healthcare costs. Stating his belief that the individual health insurance market is broken, he said he is pleased that “the rules will change in 2014” and hinted that, at that time, the need for drastic rate increases could subside.