Blue Shield announces Premium increases for March 2012 – will it be even harder to find affordable health insurance in Brentwood? by Barbara Kempen | Dec 20, 2011 | Health Insurance Brentwood, Health Insurance Pacific Palisades, Health Insurance Santa Monica Blue Shield of California Life & Health Insurance Company announces that their health insurance premium will increase for March 2012, will it be even harder to find affordable health insurance in Brentwood in 2012? Individual and Family plans underwritten by Blue Shield of California Life & Health Insurance Company and Blue Shield of California will experience an average rate increase of 9.7% statewide for all medical plans. There are no changes to annual deductibles, co-pays or coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums for medical plans. And rates for Specialty Benefit plans are not increasing. Blue Shield announced that they don’t raise rates to increase profits. In fact, in 2011 they announced their 2 Percent Pledge – Blue Shield of California’s commitment that if their net income exceeds 2 percent of revenue, they will give back the difference to Blue Shield of California and Blue Shield of California Life & Health Insurance Company customers and the community as long as they remain financially solvent, with sufficient funds to make the investments needed to stay competitive*. Blue Shield last increased premiums in January, 2011. The March 2012 rates reflect the projected medical costs for their members in 2012 and are based on the rates they expect to pay providers for services their members receive. The March 2012 rate increases are due to increasing health care costs in their plans and will impact all members who are enrolled in Blue Shield’s medical Individual and Family plans. The 9.7 increase is just below the 10 % rate which would trigger the Federal Government, the Health & Human Services ( HHS ) to review Blue Shield rates. I am quite positive that many carriers will stay next year under the 10 % increase, so that HHS does not influence the rate increases. Although their almost 10 % increases might be justified, the problem is that the middle class who is the main purchaser of Individual Health insurance has not received a 10 % income increase. As long as our economy does not pick up, and creates more jobs and more income , any health insurance increase will hurt the middle class and will make it hard for us to find affordable health insurance in Brentwood.