California Regulator Criticizes Aetna Rate Increase As 'Unreasonable'

A California insurance regulator ruled that an Aetna Inc. health-insurance rate increase was “unreasonable,” in the latest salvo of a long-running debate in the state over the cost of coverage.

The announcement by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones focused on a boost that affects small-group plans and became effective April 1. It was the first time the department has officially used a new ability, granted under a state law that took effect at the beginning of 2011, to call out rates as unreasonable.

But the regulator has been jawboning carriers over their rate filings, and he said in all previous cases insurers have agreed to modify their rate hike proposals before they were formally declared unreasonable. Most recently, the department said that WellPoint Inc.’s Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California both agreed to make changes to rate filings for the individual market.

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Source: The Wall Street Journal