Tag Archives: Insurance

Bigger May Be Better For Health Insurers, But Doubts Remain For Consumers

by Reed Abelson, New York Times

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Anthem, which operates for-profit Blue Cross plans in 14 states, merging with Cigna, another large for-profit carrier, along with the planned deal for Aetna to join Humana, a smaller rival known for its private Medicare plans, would create two behemoths.
Along with the already enormous UnitedHealth Group, these companies would control nearly half of the American commercial health insurance market. … “Are these companies not big enough that they needed to be bigger?” [asked one insurance broker]. “They’re all huge.” Read More ›

Anthem To Buy Cigna, Creating Biggest U.S. Health Insurer

by Ankur Banerjee and Ransdell Pierson, Reuters

anthem-insurance best

Anthem Inc said on Friday it would buy Cigna Corp for about $54.2 billion, creating the largest U.S. health insurer by membership and accelerating the industry’s consolidation from five national players to three. … State insurance regulators and federal antitrust authorities are expected to scrutinize how the Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana deals would affect competition for Medicare and individual and commercial insurance. Within a few hours of the announcement, several U.S. lawmakers and a leading physicians group said they feared the pending acquisitions would hurt consumers … Read More ›

Aetna’s 21% Rate Hike Amounts To ‘Price Gouging,’ California Regulator Says

by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times

Pregnant woman worrying over bills

“Aetna’s pattern of unreasonable increases equates to price gouging in today’s market,” [said Shelley Rouillard, director of the California Department of Managed Health Care.] … Overall, the managed-care agency has found six rate increases unreasonable since 2011, and four of them were from Aetna. In May, the regulator found Aetna’s 19.2% increase for small employers unreasonable. But California officials have no power to stop health insurance rate increases. Read More ›

Out-Of-Network Costs Lurk Even At In-Network Hospitals

by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times

SalFalko / Creative Commons

A recent report by Consumers Union found that nearly 1 in 4 Californians say they were charged out-of-network rates when they thought that a provider was in-network. Most of these people — more than 6 in 10 — assume that doctors at an in-network hospital are also in-network, yet that’s often not the case. Federal law doesn’t protect patients from surprise bills. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover out-of-network emergency services at in-network rates, but it doesn’t stop doctors from balance billing. … As it stands today, the healthcare system has consumers over a barrel. Read More ›

California Tax Officials Blast Blue Shield In Audit

by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times

Blue Shield

Blue Shield’s operations are indistinguishable from those of its for-profit healthcare competitors, the auditors found, and it should be stripped of the tax break it has enjoyed since its founding in 1939. The insurance giant does not advance social welfare, the key test for preserving its tax exemption, according to the records. … Since the revocation became public, Blue Shield has come under increasing scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and consumer groups over its massive financial reserves and its proposed purchase of a Medicaid insurer for $1.2 billion. Read More ›

Ridesharing Drivers Often Stuck In Insurance Limbo

by Alice Holbrook, NerdWallet

Uber executives’ access to customer ride logs came under scrutiny last year, when a company manager referenced a reporter’s log during an interview. Some users were also disturbed by Uber’s use of ride logs to compile a study on customer hookups in 2012. Critics complain that the bill would make essential functions of TNCs, like using GPS to locate passengers, illegal. But [Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California] likens the regulations to medical privacy laws. “Even in a hospital, not just everyone is allowed to look at your medical records.” Read More ›

Why Did It Take 7 Months To Learn Blue Shield Lost Tax-Exempt Status?

by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Wednesday applauded the [California Franchise Tax Board’s] move as further proof that “Blue Shield charges excessive rates and acts like a for-profit insurer.” Now consumer groups are asking for legislative hearings into the tax board’s handling of the Blue Shield matter. … State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), Senate Health Committee chairman, said he too wanted more answers from the franchise tax board and welcomes a debate over whether Blue Shield is meeting its obligations to taxpayers. Read More ›

California Consumer Group Seeks Enforcement Action Against Geico

by Staff, The Insurance Journal

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“Our extensive analysis of Geico’s online rate quote system found that it is programmed to target unmarried low or moderate-income drivers for inflated rates,” Richard Holober, executive director of the group stated. “Targeted motorists either pay for excessive coverages they are falsely told are the lowest available, or Geico drives them away with these costly quotes. Either way, Geico is breaking California’s insurance regulations and civil rights law.” Read More ›

ConsumerWatch: Geico Accused Of Discriminatory Insurance Quotes

kpix TV report https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/video/11132326-consumerwatch-geico-accused-of-discriminatory-insurance-quotes/

When was the last time your car insurance company asked about your job or if you had a college degree? On the Consumer Watch, Julie Watts says some are questioning the legality of Geico’s practices.

Geico Accused Of Discriminating Against ‘Working Class’ Customers

by Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle

Mike Konopacki / CFC

Under Proposition 103, insurance companies must offer good drivers a policy with minimum coverages of $15,000 for a single injury, $30,000 for injury to more than one person in an accident, and $5,000 for property damage, called a “15/30/5 policy.” When a “working-class” person applies online, Geico’s website shows the lowest limits are $100,000 for a single injury, $300,000 for injury to more than one person and $50,000 for property damage, the [Consumer Federation of California] said. Read More ›

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