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Millions Face California Health Insurance Premium Rate Hikes

Millions Face California Health Insurance Premium Rate Hikes

California - This July 1, the cost of California health insurance premiums for more than 1.5 million people increased. Some of the state's largest health insurance companies, such as Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net of California, and Kaiser implemented the dreaded rate hikes.

The rate increases mostly affected individual policy holders and small businesses that will largely see a three-percent to 17-percent increase in their CA health plan premiums. It depends on the plan and the carrier, though. Some plans could get much higher premiums with hikes as high as 92.5 percent.

How High Will CA Health Insurance Rate Hikes Go?

According to data released by the California Department of Insurance, Aetna's small-group policy holders could see rates rise by as much as 92.5 percent. For small businesses and individual policyholders, the average increase would be 12.7 percent and 17.4 percent on some California health insurance plans.

The state's largest insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, is sticking with its small-group rate hikes even though it lowered some other increases that were scheduled for this July. It also pushed still other rate hikes to the beginning of next year. While the rates vary by plan, small-group customers will see an average increase of from three percent to 9.5 percent.

For Kaiser small-group plans, some will pay an average of 12 percent more for premiums. Health Net of California is giving small-group plans hikes of around 16 percent. For some, this could be the third rate hike in a year.

Health Insurance for California Is On A Collision Course With Assembly Bill 52

Insurance companies may be pushing rate hikes because before they have to deal with the consequences of Assembly Bill 52.

That would give California's legislators and the Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, the authority to block excessive increases on California health coverage premiums. According to Jones, AB 52 would make CA health coverage and quality health care more accessible and decrease the number of uninsured Californians.

Three dozen other states have already given similar permission to state Insurance Commissioners to control excessive health coverage rate hikes.

How Do CA Health Insurance Companies Justify Rate Hikes?

Many insurers say the rising cost of health coverage for California is just a reflection of the rise in health care costs for hospitalization, diagnostic tests and medications. Jones, however, has contested that CA health insurance companies are charging more than what is necessary to cover their higher medical costs.

The California Medical Association has said that insurers will manage to maintain their record profit levels even after regulation passes to limit rate hikes. Will insurers generate profit by reducing the amount of coverage in their plans?

The Affordable Care Act has already set standards of the preventive care services that must be covered without any out-of-pocket costs for policyholders. In addition, the Act prohibits insurers from refusing to cover children under age 19 based on their medical history. Similar protection is scheduled to go into effect for adults by 2014.

How Can You Protect Yourself From CA Health Insurance Rate Increases?

When you see rate hikes coming, you can always do comparison shopping to see if another plan is available at a lower rate. While your health is good, switching plans can be very easy.

In general, plans with deductible cost less than plans with co-payments. As a rule, the higher the deductible is, the lower the premiums tend to be. Now that preventive is covered with no deductible applied, a high-deductible plan still covers preventive services completely as long as the services are from providers inside the plan's network of providers.