California OKs Anthem rate hike after controversy

LOS ANGELES

The California Department of Insurance said Wednesday it approved a rate increase averaging 13.4 percent for Anthem Blue Cross customers. The department also approved an 18.5 percent increase for Blue Shield of California, which is not part of Anthem.

Anthem, the state's largest for-profit insurer, had previously requested a boost that would have raised rates as much as 39 percent for some customers, with average increases of about 25 percent. But regulators found accounting errors in the proposal and Anthem retracted the filing, which would have affected around 800,000 individual policies.

Anthem's rate hike was repeatedly held up by President Barack Obama as an example of a broken health care system in the run up to the vote on the federal health care reform bill.

In a statement, Anthem spokeswoman Kristin Binns said the company "is pleased that the department has posed no objections to our individual rate filings and we look forward to continuing to serve consumers in California."

Anthem's parent company is Indianapolis-based Wellpoint Inc.

A call to Blue Shield was not immediately returned.

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