Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield is filing requests with the state Department of Insurance for 2012 rate hikes of 8.9 percent to 19.9 percent on community-rated plans, Excellus officials said Monday.
Under the request some plans could see decreases of 5 percent to10 percent.
If the rate request is approved, Healthy Blue plans, which account for most of the Blues’ community-rated products locally, would see increases ranging from 8.9 percent to 12.9 percent, the company said. Some high-deductible plans would see increases of 17.9 percent to 19.9 percent.
Because high-deductible premiums are relatively modest as compared to other plans, the dollar increases on high-deductible products would be small despite the double-digit percentage increases, said James Redmond, Blues vice president of communication.
Rising medical costs are primarily to blame for premium hikes, said James Reed, Excellus senior vice-president of sales and marketing.
“We continue to see an increased use of health care services and higher payments for many of those medical goods and services that together are driving the increased cost for coverage,” Reed said in a statement.
The rate hike request comes some five months earlier than the state’s old deadline for rate filings and six weeks before Excellus filed a rate request last year.
The early filing was needed to give state regulators enough time to review the request, Redmond said.
Until two years ago, the insurance department lacked authority to modify insurers’ rate filings. That changed in 2009 when, at former Gov. David Paterson’s urging, the state scrapped its so-called file-and-use law.
Under file-and-use, rate modifications insurers filed automatically took effect Jan. 1 as long as they had been filed no later than 30 days prior. While the insurance department technically had the ability to modify rates after a post-filing review, no such modifications were made.
A 2002 attempt by the Gov. George Pataki administration’s superintendent of insurance, Gregory Serio, to roll back 20 percent to 30 percent rate hikes Excellus had imposed on direct-pay subscribers failed after Excellus sued Serio in state court and won. The state Supreme Court ruling was later upheld by the Court of Appeals.
File-and-use had stripped the state of the ability to alter rate requests, the courts said.
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