The Colorado Division of Insurance is reviewing the approval they granted last fall for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield’s 2010 rate increase – which amounted to an average premium hike of 20% for people buying Anthem’s individual health insurance policies. The Division of Insurance received 35 consumer complaints in December about the Anthem rate increases, which was four times what they normally get. Anthem is confident that the state will come to the same conclusion when they re-examine the numbers that prompted them to approve the rate increases several months ago, and will allow the current rates to stay in place.
Anthem charges the same premiums regardless of whether a policy is new or has been in force for several years. A 40 year old, healthy, non-smoking male who purchases a policy this month will be paying the same premiums as a 40 year old healthy non-smoking male who has had an Anthem policy for ten years, assuming they both live in the same zip code and have the same type of policy. Because of this, it’s relatively easy to compare Anthem’s rates – even after rate increases go into effect – with those of other carriers in Colorado. The rates being offered to new Anthem clients include the rate increases that went into effect in January.
To get an idea of how Anthem’s prices compare with other carriers, I got quotes for a family of three, living in the Denver metro area, for a high deductible, HSA-qualified policy with 100% coverage after the deductible. These plans are relatively easy to compare, as they tend to be quite similar from one company to another. I looked for policies with a $5000 or $6000 family deductible (most companies offer one or the other, but not usually both), or something in the middle of that range if neither exact number was available.
Here’s what I found, from several of the top carriers in the Colorado individual market:
- Cigna = $325 (for a $6000 deductible)
- Anthem Blue Cross = $377 (for a $5000 deductible)
- Humana = $402 (for a $5000 deductible
- Kaiser = $441 (for a $6000 deductible)
- Assurant/Time = $449 (for a $5700 deductible)
- United HealthOne (Golden Rule) = $461 (for a $5800 deductible
- Aetna = $481 (for a $6000 deductible)
Obviously this isn’t comprehensive data. I only got quotes for one family, using a single zipcode. Factors like pre-existing conditions, tobacco use, zipcode, and plan design all have an influence on premiums. But these numbers would seem to indicate that while Anthem’s rate increase may have been large, it seems to be in line with what other carriers are charging in Colorado. For the little test I conducted, Anthem’s premium was the second-lowest I found, and the only one with a lower premium had an additional thousand dollars in out of pocket exposure.
I’ll be curious to see what the Division of Insurance comes up with when they re-evaluate Anthem’s 2010 rates. My guess would be that they will approve the rates. If they don’t, it would stand to reason that they will have to also re-evaluate the most recent rate increases for all of the other carriers in Colorado too.