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New online tools allow consumers to track health insurance rate hikes

July 29, 2010 |  9:49 am

Health insurance consumers concerned about rate increases can now keep track of them online by visiting the California Department of Insurance’s website.

The department has launched a new electronic service to alert consumers when insurers file rates in the individual market, which serves people who do not receive health coverage through their employers.

To sign up for the e-mails, go to http://www.insurance.ca.gov/email-updates/. Once there, click on “Sign up for a free account” and select which updates to receive.

“We want as many people as possible scouring these rate filings to ensure they are mistake-free,” Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said in a statement. “The e-mail notification tool will expand access to these documents by informing the public of when there are new filings to peruse.”

In addition, consumers can examine the paperwork that goes into rate filings by visiting another insurance department link -- http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0250-insurers/IndHlthRateFilings/.

Filings there are listed by company name, the date they were received and their file numbers. So far, that site contains rate filings from Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna Inc., Blue Shield of California, Health Net Inc. and Prudential. The documents come straight from the insurers, providing their detailed calculations and explanations for their rate increases.

-- Duke Helfand

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