Local News

Feb 24, 2010 11:35 PM by Ariel Wesler

Blue Cross insurance hikes hit Central Coast

The state's largest healthcare provider is raising its rates.

"Probably about 10 percent of the folks insured by the company in this state were affected by the rate hike," said Sharon Pensabene, a Lompoc insurance broker.

Those insured as part of a group policy are not directly affected. If you have an individual policy with Blue Cross, your rates could go up by as much as 39 percent.

KSBY got a hold of a letter from Anthem Blue Cross to a customers, which said
"It is necessary to adjust our rates to cover the escalating cost of health care. As of March 1, 2010, the monthly rate. . .will change from $121.00 to $159.00."

That's a 31 percent increase.

"You no longer have premium dollars walking in the door that there's going to be no expenses associated with that premium dollar for young folks and healthy folks," Pensabene said.

Blue Cross says it's seeing more younger, healthier people simply drop their plans all together, leaving them with a group of older, more expensive policy holders.

"I'm a young guy. I'm healthy, so why would I need insurance," said J.D. Cabanas, an uninsured student at Hancock College in Santa Maria.

Another student told me because of the economy, neither he nor his parents have health insurance.

"I need health insurance. It like scares me. I can't really mess around. I have to watch what I do," said Joe Dotson, an uninsured student.

Industry experts say these rate hikes are a key sign that health care reform is more important now than ever.

This increase is more than four times normal adjustments. Insurance brokers say they usually see an eight to nine percent jump annually.

Anthem Blue Cross provides health insurance to roughly 10 million people in California.

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