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Blue Shield of California agrees to delay health insurance rate hike Posted: February 8th, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

After initially balking at a request from the state's insurance commissioner, Blue Shield of California announced it has reconsidered, and will delay a scheduled health insurance rate hike. The premium increase was set to go into effect March 1, but California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones asked the insurer to delay that action 60 days while he reviews the company's filing paperwork.

Originally, Blue Shield declined to delay the increase. Instead, it offered to submit its filing to a third-party actuary for review. On Feb. 1, the California Department of Insurance issued a press release stating that Blue Shield had reversed itself, and was agreeing to Commissioner Jones' request for more time.

Taking credit for the health insurance company's change of heart were the California Nurses Association and advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which organized protests at Blue Shield's San Francisco headquarters on the same day the 60-day waiting period was agreed upon.

The insurance commissioner's request came after Blue Shield policyholders received notice of the March health insurance rate increase, which was the third increase from the company in less than six months. Some policyholders reported that the three hikes would mean a premium increase of up to 59 percent.

Similar requests to delay pending premium hikes were sent to Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and PacifiCare. Those three health insurance companies also agreed to a 60-day delay in implementing future increases.