Washington DC Rescinds 35% Health Insurance Increase

Washington DC insurance regulator, citing errors, rescinds a previously approved price rise for a health insurer.
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Washington DC (

TheStreet

) - The DC insurance regulator announced this week she has rescinded a previously approved 35% increase in health premiums for

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

a not for profit insurer.

Citing National Consumer Protection Week, Commissioner Gennet Purcell said that the department of insurance has "pursued regulatory measures that keep on protecting consumers' financial interests."

The agency had approved the rate increase last October but following a consumer complaint this year it looked further into the approval. Having requested some additional details from the insurer the regulator concluded that a mistake had been made in the original filing.

The regulator decided that excluding the error there was insufficient support for the request for the increase. The insurer has been instructed to return the rates to the previous level and refund any excess charges to the consumers together with 5% interest.

This is reminiscent of the 39%

WellPoint

(WLP)

price increase that was being implemented earlier this year. It attracted the attention of the insurance regulator in California and President Obama and is currently under review.

WellPoint has agreed to place its rate increase is on hold. In the DC case, pending the filing of a new application for a price increase the rates have reverted to the original levels.

One wonders how many insurers have implemented price increases in 2010 that reflect similar levels to these. Justifiable they might be but we should be even more concerned if that is the case. Will the regulators in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, home of the other CareFirst insurance subsidiaries be checking any price rises too?

Reported by Gavin Magor in Jupiter, Fla.

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Gavin Magor is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial-strength ratings to insurance companies. He conducts industry analysis and supports consumer products. Magor has more than 22 years of international experience in operations and credit-risk management, commercial lending and analysis. His experience includes international assignments in Sweden, Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. He holds a master's degree in business administration from The Open University in the U.K.