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CareFirst Calls For 25 Percent Rate Hike In Maryland

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Providers like CareFirst say rate hikes are unavoidable as provisions of the Health Care Reform Act take effect.
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Providers like CareFirst say rate hikes are unavoidable as provisions of the Health Care Reform Act take effect.

Maryland's largest health care provider wants to raise insurance premiums for individual policies by an average of 25 percent.

Maryland is one of 31 states where regulators can accept or reject such proposals, so much of this is far from being set in stone, according to Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a healthcare consumer advocate.

The proposal submitted to state regulators by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield would only apply to those who buy health insurance on their own instead of the subsidized plan offered by some employers.

"CareFirst generally likes to come in with a large rate increase request knowing full well that it might not be approved," Pollack says. "So, I wouldn't make too much of this increase request cause it s far from being the final word."

Insurance carriers such as CareFirst have warned that cost increases will be unavoidable as main provisions of the Health Care Reform Act take effect in January of 2014. Pollack says those provisions include tax subsidies for healthcare consumers at the federal poverty level.

"In Maryland, approximately 361,000 people will be eligible for those subsidies," Pollack says.

In a statement released this week Carefirst CEO Chet Burell says CareFirst is doing everything in its power to keep premiums as low as possible given the new rules and regulations.

Ron Pollack will discuss this issue in-depth later today in the 1 o'clock hour of the Kojo Nnamdi show.

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