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Wed July 1, 2009
Cox objects to Blue Cross' temporary rate hikes
By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network
EAST LANSING, MI – Attorney General Mike Cox is opposing Blue Cross-Blue Shield's request for a rate hike on customers who pay for their own coverage. Blue Cross is planning a temporary rate hike while it waits for permission to permanently boost its premiums.
AUDIO: About 400,000 Blue Cross customers buy their own insurance because they don't get group coverage through an employer. Blue Cross says it's losing money on that fast-growing market because it's a not-for-profit charity that has to accept older and sicker customers that for-profit companies turn away.
But Cox says raising rates on customers who may be unemployed or in low-income jobs isn't a good idea.
"What it oftentimes does is drive more people into the ranks of the uninsured or it drives them onto the state rolls - by that, I mean Medicaid," he said.
Cox says Blue Cross should first have to wrap up a thorough process of hearings before state regulators.
A Blue Cross spokesman says Cox's position is good politics, but ignores the business realities facing the state's largest insurer.