Health Insurance
3:33 am
Wed December 8, 2010

Kreidler rejects Regence rate hike

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has rejected a new rate increase requested by one of the state’s largest health insurers.  It’s the second time in recent months Kreidler has sparred with Regence BlueShield. 

Regence is seeking a 3.7% increase for its Washington customers, including the Asuris subsidiary, starting January first, to cover the cost of new benefits required by the federal health law.  This applies to its individual insurance plans, not to plans provided through employers.

“Our job is to make sure the rates they are charging are justified, and we don’t believe they justified the rates,” says Stephanie Marquis of the insurance commissioner’s office.  She says Regence has to  prove the increase is revenue neutral – that’s it not adding to profits. 

“We will continue work with the company to make sure there's a product people can buy, but it has to be priced fairly,” she says.   

Regence applied for two other rate changes earlier this fall on its individual plans.  The first one was approved, and boosted premiums by an average of 16.4%.  The second change would have raised rates again, while moving customers into a plan with fewer benefits.  Kreidler’s office rejected that, along with the latest increase. 

Regence has nearly 50% of the individual insurance market in Washington.  The company says in a written statement that it will continue working with the insurance commissioner in an effort to get the increase approved. 

For now, subscribers should pay rates approved back in October, which are posted online.