Anthem to raise some premiums up to 25 percent

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thousands of Anthem Blue Cross individual customers whose policies were unchanged by the nation’s new health care law could see their premiums jump as much as 25 percent unless California regulators step in.

The increases — 16 percent on average — are slated to go into effect April 1 for up to 306,000 people, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Consumer advocates and state officials warned that some policyholders could see significant rate hikes if they held onto grandfathered policies purchased before the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the newspaper said.

The California Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Health Care are awaiting additional information from Anthem before they decide whether to persuade the state’s largest for-profit health insurer to back down.

Anthem Blue Cross said the rate hike plan reflects escalating health care costs industrywide. The company said the new health care law gives customers several options. Some may be eligible for federal subsidies via the Covered California exchange and others may have lower premiums if they decide to switch to an Affordable Care Act-compliant policy, spokesman Darrel Ng told the newspaper.

The law, sometimes known as Obamacare, makes it easier for some consumers to switch coverage because insurers can no longer deny applicants on the basis of pre-existing conditions or charge them more because of their medical history. But changing plans isn’t an appealing option for some policyholders who like the benefits they have now and worry about losing access to their doctors.

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