Health

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Texas: 60 Percent Rate Hike

| by Michael Allen
Blue Cross Blue Shield Of TexasBlue Cross Blue Shield Of Texas

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas wants to increase its individual health insurance plan premiums by an average of 57.3 percent to 59.4 percent in 2017.

The insurance company said in a statement: "It’s also important to understand the magnitude of the losses … experienced in the individual retail market over the past two years."

According The Associated Press, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas said that it lost $592 million in 2015 and $416 million in 2014.

The Houston Chronicle reported in 2015 that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas' Chicago-based parent company, Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), "was sitting on a $9.9 billion surplus" when it previously requested and received a near 20 percent rate increase in Texas that went into effect in January.

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HCSC CEO Patricia Hemingway Hall made about $11.7 million in 2014, including more than $10 million in bonuses, making her the sixth-highest earning insurance executive for that year.

However, HCSC said that it operated on "thin margins," and noted that it suffered a $282 million net loss for 2014.

HCSC said in a statement that it "remains strongly committed to a not-for-profit structure," and added: "We do not measure success by how much money we make. Instead, we set our sights on meeting the health care needs of our members and facilitating their use of the health care system."

Health insurance premium prices are not set by Obamacare, but rather by the companies themselves and their respective state regulators.

Texas state regulators said that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas' request is confidential and refused to issue any comment, notes The Associated Press.

Fortune reported in 2015 that Texas has the highest number of uninsured residents of any state in the nation at 19.1 percent, which is about 5 million people.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and his predecessor Rick Perry refused to expand Medicaid coverage in the state under Obamacare.

Texas also cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates in 2015 after some heavily-edited undercover videos of Planned Parenthood clinics were released by the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group.

Sources: The Associated Press via Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Fortune / Photo credit: Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Texas Logo via KFDA

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