Oregon’s low cost health insurer takes a rate hike

Health Insurance Rates Go UpLast week, Oregon-based Regence Blue Cross Blue shield was called upon to answer concerns from regulators regarding proposed rate increase of 22%. The state’s Insurance Division hosted the public meeting, the first of its kind in more than two decades. 200 Oregon residents attended the meeting to hear firsthand the rationalization behind the rate change proposal. They were also given the opportunity to make comment and question company officials regarding the issue.

Regence provides insurance customers to 12% of the state’s population. The insurer often provides affordable coverage for those that do not receive health benefits from their employers. In the past, Regence’s individual policies have been affordable, but the looming rate increase could make some 60,000 policyholders look for alternatives.

The proposal has drawn ire from the public, a fact that Regence president, Jared Short, was keen to address during the public meeting.

“There is nothing about this rate increase that I feel good about,” said Short, noting that his company is subject to the same trends happening all over the country. This trend comes in the form of rising medical care costs which is, in turn, driving up insurance rates. Short asserts that health insurance companies must raise their rates in order to keep up with the rising cost of care.

The primary purpose of the meeting, according to Theresa Miller, administrator of Oregon’s Insurance Division, is to gain insight on how insurance companies justify what she considers excessive rate hikes.

The public will be able to submit questions the company will have to answer for the next two weeks.

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