Blue Cross seeks insurance rate increase

November 24, 1990|By Peter H. Frank

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland announced yesterday that it was seeking to raise its insurance rates between 10.3 percent and 20.9 percent for the policies it sells to supplement Medicare coverage.

The company, the largest health insurer in Maryland, has asked state insurance regulators for the premium increase as a way to offset recent changes in the amount the federal government picks up under the Medicare program, Blue Cross said. The increase, if approved, would affect 105,000 senior citizens in the state.

Under new guidelines that go into effect next year, Medicare recipients must pay the first $628 in hospital costs each year before hospital coverage kicks in under the federal insurance program and the first $100 in doctor bills, Blue Cross said. That compares with previous deductibles of $592 for Part A, or hospital, coverage and $75 for Part B, or doctor bills.

Blue Cross, which picks up the bulk of those deductibles under most of its Medicare supplemental policies, said the proposed rate increase was needed to offset those higher payments.

"Most of our products, which would mean 98 or 99 percent, cover all of the Part A deductible," said Linda Benedict, vice president of the company's individual market division. "So when Medicare raises their deductible, our liability goes up."

Ms. Benedict also cited the "ongoing escalating cost of health care in general" for part of the requested increase in rates.

Maryland's insurance commissioner, John A. Donaho, scheduled a public hearing on the rate request for Dec. 11 at the Department of Licensing and Regulation Building at 501 St. Paul Place in Baltimore.

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