Arlene Becker had little reason to pay attention, until the notices from Blue Shield began arriving one after another. On the first of the year, her premiums shot up, on top of the increase just a few months ago, and the one a few months before that.
Soon, her Blue Shield premiums will rise again – the fourth time in a little over a year. "When is it ever going to stop?" said Becker, who had to shop for her own insurance after liver cancer killed her husband nearly two years ago.
That same question is being asked by thousands of others, including Vernon Oshiro and his wife, Paulette, who run a dental lab in Folsom. "What are we going to have to give up next? Eating?"
Last year, the couple enrolled in a Blue Shield policy to escape the escalating premiums at their former carrier, Anthem Blue Cross. "And here we go again," said Paulette Oshiro.
Health insurance premiums have been rising for everyone, but the 2.5 million Californians who buy insurance on their own rather than receiving it through an employer have been particularly hard-hit lately.
Since last fall, Blue Shield has raised rates three times, amounting to a 30 percent increase on average, for its nearly 200,000 individual customers.
The company blamed rate hikes on rising costs for hospital care, doctors and drugs.
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