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Consumer Confidential: Anthem rate hike, credit-card debt

February 8, 2010 | 11:06 am

Here's your misanthropically Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--The Obama administration is asking the same thing many Anthem Blue Cross customers are asking: How come premiums for individual insurance policies have jumped by as much as 39%? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to Anthem's president saying she finds it hard to understand why rates have skyrocketed. She called for a better explanation of the hike. My column in Monday's paper tells the story of one family dealing with higher insurance costs.

--Some mixed news on the borrowing front. On the one hand, Americans put less debt on their plastic in December, the 11th straight month of reduced borrowing. On the other, we happily ran up the debt for big-ticket purchases like cars. Economists think the tea leaves suggest we're still keeping a close watch on our finances as we claw our way out of the recession. At the same time, we're gradually becoming comfortable again throwing some cash around. My guess is that as soon as the unemployment rate comes down a bit more, we'll be breaking out the credit cards just like old times.

-- David Lazarus