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Independent actuary says Blue Shield rates are sound Posted: March 2nd, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Blue Shield of California started the year making headlines with a series of health insurance rate hikes. After premiums for many of its individual health plans increased in October and January, policyholders received notice of a third hike planned for March. Some subscribers reported overall increases of 59 percent in premium amounts.

In response to public outcry, Blue Shield announced plans to have an independent actuary review its rates to ensure they were sound. The health insurance company commissioned David Axene of Axene Health Partners to conduct the review. Axene had previously found errors when conducting a review of a 39 percent premium increase planned by Anthem Blue Cross.

In a Feb. 28 letter to Blue Shield, Axene reported his findings.

Four key findings from the report indicate the company's rate increase filing meets accepted industry standards:

  1. Blue Shield medical loss ratios meet both California state law and federal health reform requirements
  2. Trend assumptions made by the health insurance company match those made by Axene's firm
  3. Rating methodology was straight forward and easy to understand
  4. No errors were found in the rate filing