NC OKs higher rates to keep Blue Cross policies - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

NC OKs higher rates to keep Blue Cross policies

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Bob Mulder of Raleigh says rates on his existing plan will go up 23.6 percent, if he chooses to keep it. Bob Mulder of Raleigh says rates on his existing plan will go up 23.6 percent, if he chooses to keep it.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina's insurance commissioner is clearing the state's largest health insurer to raise premiums by between 16 percent and 24 percent on policies that would have been canceled for failing to meet minimum requirements required by the new federal law.
    
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said Tuesday his office approved the rate increases requested by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. The decision means people who had one of the nearly 152,000 cancelled policies can keep them next year at the higher cost.

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An agency spokeswoman says Blue Cross is the only one of 21 insurers who have cancelled policies to move to extend plans.
    
A spokeswoman for the next two largest health insurers - Aetna and its subsidiary Coventry Health - declined to comment Tuesday.

One Raleigh man was shocked to hear the rate for his existing Blue Cross Blue Shield "Blue Saver" plan would increase 23.6 percent next year.

Real estate agent Bob Mulder says that means his current rate of $298 a month will climb to $368 a month if he chooses to keep the plan.  He could opt for one of the new plans offered in the federal healthcare exchange.  At $359 a month, that plan offers better coverage and lower deductibles, but only if he qualifies for a subsidy.

"If you make more than $62,040, you don't get a subsidy," Mulder said.

That's worrisome because Mulder's income as an independent real estate agent varies.

"If I were to make $62,041 dollars, just one dollar over the cut-off point, my premium would jump $9,400," he said.  "It's like you're punished for making more money and you're encouraged to make less, so you can get a subsidy and that just doesn't make any sense."

A spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield the rate increases on those grandfathered plans are due to new taxes outlined in the Affordable Care Act.  They're encouraging customers to check out new options on the federal healthcare exchange.

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