Back in March, the Colorado Division of Insurance launched a review of the rate increase they had previously approved for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield individual policies. It was a process that was supposed to be finished in just a couple months, but might end up taking the rest of the year as analysts consider all of the data involved in determining what rates were appropriate for 2010. Anthem is so far the only Colorado carrier that has been subjected to such protracted scrutiny by the Division of Insurance, but as we noted when the issue first came up, Anthem’s 2010 rates were very much in line with what other individual carriers were charging this year. It remains to be seen whether other carriers’ rate increases will be reviewed this thoroughly in future years, but one of the provisions on the PPACA is to provide money to the states specifically for the purpose of reviewing proposed rate increases.
Colorado will get $1 million to use for more extensive review of future rate increases, and the Division of Insurance has proposed hiring more analysts and actuaries to examine the data that is filed each year by the insurance carriers. The rate proposals will get more scrutiny, which is a good protective measure for consumers. But insureds could still see hefty rate increases thanks to the ever-increasing cost of health care. In CA, after months of review, regulators still approved a double digit rate increase for Wellpoint policies (14% average, with individual increases as high as 20%). If the cost of health care continues to increase at its current pace, health insurance premiums will also continue to climb. A more thorough review of the extensive data involved in determining health insurance premiums makes sense, but without significant measures to cut the cost of health care, those reviews may find that there is no way around raising premiums year after year, often by noteworthy amounts.