Court backs Maine in insurance rate fight

By Glenn Adams
Associated Press / April 23, 2010

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AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Superior Court has affirmed a decision by state regulators to cut the increase in Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine’s rates for individual health plans from 18.1 percent to 10.9 percent.

Superior Court Chief Justice Thomas Humphrey said in a ruling Wednesday that Maine law does not “expressly entitle insurers to a mandated profit margin.’’

Anthem had contended that the 10.9 percent increase allowed by Maine’s insurance superintendent was not enough to be profitable. The 10.9 percent average increase became effective July 1.

The judge also said it was not improper for the superintendent to consider the state of the economy and profits from Anthem’s other lines of insurance in making her decision on the proposed increase.

Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman called the decision “good news for Maine consumers.’’

Attorney General Janet Mills said Anthem “cannot impose high rate increases on the backs of individual policyholders to maximize its corporate profits.’’

“In the past three years alone, Anthem turned over $200 million in dividends to its parent company Wellpoint, one of the largest health insurers in the country,’’ Mills said.

Anthem’s proposed 22.9 percent increase this year for two individual coverage plans is still pending.

The company has not decided whether it will appeal the ruling.

“That said, we stand by our position that filed rates need to both cover the medical costs for our members and allow for an adequate risk margin to cover unanticipated costs,’’ said spokesman Christopher Dugan.

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