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Anthem raising rates in Virginia page 2
Some Anthem customers in Virginia are seeing the same kind of price hikes that produced criticism of the company in California

Date published: 2/25/2010


The KeyCare Flexible Choice plan, for example, is one of Anthem's most popular individual plans. On Oct. 1, its premiums increased an average of 15.3 percent, following a 5 percent average increase last April.

The KeyCare HealthSmart plan goes up an average of 7 percent in April, following a 21 percent average increase in December.

The KeyCare HSA plan, which Bailey and Chiappinelli buy, increased an average of 15 percent in October, after a 17 percent average increase last April.

Within plans, rates vary by the customer's age, gender, residence and health, said Scott Golden, spokesman.

"No two people are going to have the same exact premium," he said.

Typically, customers see premium increases once a year on the anniversary of when they first bought their policies. Bailey's anniversary date is March 1.

In December, she received a letter from Anthem notifying her of the upcoming price hike.

"We are required by law to notify any policyholder 60 days in advance if the anticipated increase in their premium will be 35 percent or greater," the letter said.

Later, she received notice that her new premium will be $416 per month, up from $308 now.

In California, WellPoint, Anthem's parent company, told the state that it intended to raise premiums by up to 39 percent for some customers who buy coverage in the individual market.

President Obama criticized the increases, as did Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who called them "extraordinary."

California's insurance commissioner said he would hire an independent auditor to review WellPoint's plan. The company agreed to delay the increases until May.

Asked if Anthem would delay its increases in Virginia, Golden said, "At this time there is nothing pending."

WellPoint had revenues of $61 billion in 2008, up slightly from 2007. Its net income for the year was $2.5 billion, down from $3.3 billion the year before.

Bailey said this week that she plans to continue her Anthem coverage. Chiappinelli said he's not sure what he'll do.

"I will probably go shopping," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Jim Hall: 540/374-5433
Email: jhall@freelancestar.com

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Don Chiappinelli, a 57-year-old resident of Stafford County, has purchased the individual KeyCare HSA insurance plan from Anthem since 2006. During that time, his monthly premiums have gone up 84 percent. His new premium takes effect March 1. 2006--$129 2007--$137 2008--$142 2009--$173 2010--$238