AP News

Blue Cross raising price of NC individual policies

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's largest health insurer plans to raise prices next year on individuals paying for their own coverage by an average of 10 percent, which would be the biggest increase in three years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Friday.

Blue Cross is asking state insurance regulators for permission to raise rates next year on 365,000 of its 3.6 million customers who buy their own health insurance. Rates individual coverage rose this year by an average of 5 percent.

Blue Cross is the dominant company providing health insurance to individuals, with more than 90 percent of the market.

The company said while about 140,000 individuals will see double-digit premium increases, about 60 percent will see costs rise by less than 10 percent. About 4,000 customers would see rate decreases.

If the state Insurance Department approves the rate increase next month, customers of the Blue Cross Blue Advantage, Blue Saver and Blue Options HSA plans will be notified by letter in October what their specific rate increases will be in 2013, the company said.

The requested rate increase is the largest since Blue Cross increased prices on individual coverage by 12.2 percent in 2010.

Blue Cross said it was seeking the premium rate increases because customers were seeking more medical services, and because the COST of services was rising faster than inflation.

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