Three major health insurers in California said they will comply with California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' request to delay raising premiums.
Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna and PacifiCare agreed to hold off on the proposed increases for 60 days beyond the anticipated effective dates of their recent filings with the California Department of Insurance.
Blue Shield, meanwhile, has not yet agreed to a 60-day delay requested by the commissioner in January, but did announce it would hire an outside actuary to review its filing and issue rebates to policyholders if warranted.
Jones, who took office in January, said he wanted to make sure he had adequate time to review the insurance rate filings. Although the California Department of Insurance does not have authority to reject proposed premium increases, a new state law requires insurers seeking rate hikes to provide detailed actuarial information, which state regulators must review and post electronically.
Although proposed premium increases cannot be rejected in California, Jones has the authority to enforce the new federal medical loss ratio in the individual health insurance market, which requires insurers to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and health care quality improvement.
Jones said in a media statement he was pleased with decisions of the three health insurance plans to delay their premium increases.
"Blue Shield policyholders will not have the benefit of this additional review period to ensure compliance with the law, but I will do what is within my power to determine whether Blue Shield's proposed rates are in compliance with the law and to enforce that law," he said.