Santa Monica, CA— The Department of Insurance today declared Anthem Blue Cross’s 9.8% rate increase on small business “unreasonable,” but has no power to stop the hikes unless Proposition 45 passes.
Proposition 45, which gives the elected insurance commissioner the power to reject excessive rates, is being opposed by $55 million from the insurance industry, including $18.7 million from Blue Cross. Blue Cross refused the insurance commissioner’s request to lower rates for small businesses by $33 million, the “unreasonable” rate hike for 2015 charged 120,000 small business policyholders.
Today, small businessman and Anthem Blue Cross customer Evan Borstein and his sister, actress Alex Borstein, known for her long-running role as Lois Griffin on the TV series Family Guy, spoke out against health insurance rate hikes and for Prop 45. Bornstein hung large Yes On 45 banners by street artist Robbie Conal on his Van Nuys office building asking consumers if rate hikes were killing them.
“I have been the victim of rate increases again and again and again that are unregulated and are completely unsustainable and this is why we need to have Prop 45,” said Evan Borstein.
Borstein is a hemophiliac who has required blood-clotting treatments from birth. Last March, he purchased an Anthem Blue Cross plan with assurances that his expensive treatments would be covered, but quickly found himself double-crossed. “I was paying $630 per month for my health insurance and am now paying about $10,000 per year in premiums for two separate plans, plus have had about $150,000 in out of pocket expenses over the last year because Anthem has refused to cover my treatments.”
His sister Alex Borstein said, “We have been completely dependent on health insurance all of our lives. Rates keep skyrocketing and the coverage keeps diminishing. It is brutal and unfair. We need the commissioner to give voice to us.”
“Anthem Blue Cross is unwilling to lower its rates by $33 million when its rates are deemed excessive, but took more than $18.8 million dollars of policyholders’ premium money to pay for a deceptive $55 million industry radio and TV ad campaign against Prop 45,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog. “Under Prop 45, insurance companies will not be able to pass on the cost of their lobbying and political spending on ad campaigns like this.”
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones had asked Anthem Blue Cross four times in the last two years not to raise rates, but they ignored his requests.
“This pattern and practice of excessive premium increases has a cumulative impact on the bottom line for California small businesses, and yet we are powerless to stop it,” he said. “Anthem is not alone in charging excessive rates, so consumers are really trapped, they have no place to go, and small businesses are really trapped and they have no place to go.”
Prop 45 would allow the state’s elected insurance commissioner to make insurance companies justify their rate hikes under penalty of perjury, and to reject excessive hikes. 35 other states have already enacted such laws, but not California.
For more information on Prop 45 visit: http://www.yeson45.org
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Paid for by Consumer Watchdog Campaign – Yes on 45, a coalition of consumer advocates, nurses, attorneys, and policyholders. 777 S. Figueroa St., Ste. 4050, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Major Funding by Consumer Watchdog Campaign and California Nurses Association.