Economy

Political firestorm rages over health insurance rates in California

It's become an annual ritual for Folsom insurance broker Dina Collins, delivering the news to clients that they will have to dig deeper into their pockets if they want the ease of mind that health insurance brings. This year the news was particularly harsh.

"I've been in business for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this. I thought it was scary," Collins said.

While intense scrutiny is being focused on Anthem Blue Cross for proposing rate hikes of up to 39 percent on hundreds of thousands of Californians who buy insurance on their own, other insurers are delivering some equally jolting rate increases.

Last month, one of Collins' clients received a disheartening notice from her insurer, Health Net: a 37 percent increase, from $394 monthly to $538, that further strains her ability to afford coverage.

Blue Shield subscribers have also been jolted by dramatic increases. In the San Francisco Bay Area, some small business owners complain of increases exceeding 75 percent. One Portola Valley business owner reported seeing premiums for two of his employees jump from $622 a month to $1,093 for a plan with an $1,800 deductible.

"It's been across the board," said Collins. "It's not only Blue Cross. It's everybody.

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