Mich. AG opposes Blue Cross Blue Shield rate increase

Chris Rizo Jul. 2, 2009, 4:56am

Mike Cox (R)

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has asked the state insurance commissioner to deny an application for an interim rate request from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Blue Cross earlier this month asked Insurance Commissioner Ken Ross to approve an interim rate increase averaging 44 percent for individual policyholders, 29 percent for group conversion subscribers and 31 percent for Medicare supplemental members, or so-called Medigap members.

The increase would affect about 400,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan policyholders who buy their own health care insurance.

The insurer has said the rate increase is needed to help offset losses from its individual policyholders.

"An interim rate increase would be huge financial burden on people already struggling to afford health care," Cox said in a statement Wednesday. "Blue Cross should allow the rate hearing process to continue without trying to force an increase in the meantime."

If approved, the higher rates would become effective Aug. 1. The proposed rate increase is intended to cover its costs while its application for a permanent rate increase is decided.

In March, Blue Cross filed for rate increases averaging 56 percent for individuals, 41 percent for group conversion and 31 percent for Medicare supplemental subscribers.

Blue Cross has more than 60 percent of the state's health insurance market. The company was established by state law as Michigan's insurer of last resort.

Cox is seeking the 2010 Republican nomination for Michigan governor.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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