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California insurance commissioner expands review of rate increases

January 11, 2011 |  3:40 pm

California's new insurance commissioner has expanded his inquiry into insurance rate hikes by major insurers, calling on them to delay pending increases for 60 days while he examines their filings.

Commissioner Dave Jones has already urged Blue Shield of California to refrain from raising rates for the third time in five months. The increases would drive up consumers’ bills as much as 59% cumulatively.

On Tuesday, Jones notified Aetna Inc., Anthem Blue Cross and PacifiCare that he also is focusing on them. The insurers did not respond immediately to Jones’ request.

Under review are individual policies overseen by the state Department of Insurance.

“The state’s largest health insurers have submitted multiple premium increases for early 2011, and I am very concerned about the impact these increases will have on policyholders, especially since I have not had sufficient time to review these filings,” Jones said in a statement.

-- Duke Helfand