Blue Cross wants to hike rates on individual policies

mcornatzer@newsobserver.comAugust 3, 2012 

If your health insurer is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina get ready to pay more for coverage next year.

The Durham company, the state’s largest insurer with 3.65 million customers, wants to hike rates an average of 9.94 percent on the 365,000 North Carolinians who buy their own health insurance.

The increase will affect those enrolled in the company’s Blue Advantage and Blue Saver health plans and its Blue Options Health Savings Account.

BCBS chief actuary Patrick Getzen said the increase was needed because medical costs had risen and because more customers were undergoing expensive procedures such as hip replacements.

If the rate increase is approved by the Department of Insurance next month, customers will receive a letter from BCBS detailing what their specific new rate will be, and will have time to make changes to their plans to reduce premiums. The new rates won’t go into effect until Jan. 1.

According to BCBS, 220,000 customers who have individual policies will see an increase of 10 percent. About 4,000 customers will see a decrease in premiums.

The DOI does not always give BCBS what it wants. Last year, the insurer requested a 6.35 percent rate increase for individual customers (it did not request a rate increase for HSA customers), but DOI approved 5 percent increase.

Cornatzer: 919-829-4755

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