Despite rate increases, insurer projects $4.5 million loss to surplus

Regence BlueShield has filed rate requests with the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner for its products for individuals and families, which will result in an average base rate increase for the individual pool of 14.7 percent. This proposed increase is needed to pay members’ anticipated claims for the period of Oct. 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2013, and assumes a projected $4.5 million loss to Regence’s surplus.

“We understand that it’s becoming harder for individuals to afford the increasing cost of health care,” said Jonathan Hensley, president, Regence BlueShield in Washington. “But as dozens of carriers have abandoned this fragile market over the years, Regence is doing our best to continue offering a comprehensive set of affordable benefits to serve Washingtonians, even as we predict a loss of $4.5 million on this business this year.”

Members may see a rate increase that is higher or lower than the average 14.7 percent, depending on a number of factors, including age, number of dependents and the specifics of their particular benefit plan. The rate increase is subject to approval, and would be effective for the 15 months between Oct. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2013. Regence will notify members of their specific rates along with their annual renewal information before Sept. 1, 2012.

As a nonprofit, Regence strives to operate at break even, collecting just enough premium to cover claims costs plus administration. In the volatile individual market, Regence saw a net loss of $4.6 million on its individual business between 2009 and 2011.

Regence’s full rate filing will be available for viewing on June 23, 2012 at the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Health insurance rate change web site: