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Online information on health insurance rates readily available to Californians

November 10, 2010 | 10:35 am

An effort by the California Department of Insurance to shed light on health insurance rates is producing a mound of useful online information for consumers.

Since introducing its service in June, the department has posted 30 rate applications from insurers, including Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Aetna Inc.

The information pertains to insurance purchased in the individual market, which serves people who do not receive health coverage through their employers. It provides an up-to-date view of the calculations and rationale offered by insurers to justify their rate increases. The latest filings –- from Anthem and Blue Shield -- were posted last week.

The website also allows consumers to submit comments that the department says its staff will consider as they review rates to ensure their compliance with state law. Regulators, of course, have rather limited authority to stop rate increases. But they can block them if they determine that insurance plans fail to devote at least 70 cents of every dollar to medical care.

To see if your rates are listed, go to Questions can be answered through the department’s consumer hotline: (800) 927-4357 or (213) 897-8921.

-- Duke Helfand