Health Inc.

Massachusetts Health Insurers Sue State In Bid To Raise Rates

Not so fast, Massachusetts.

Map showing Boston, Massachusetts. i i

Massachusetts insurers want a court to let them raise rates, reversing recent decisions by the state's insurance commissioner. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com
Map showing Boston, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts insurers want a court to let them raise rates, reversing recent decisions by the state's insurance commissioner.

iStockphoto.com

A half-dozen health insurers in the state went to court Tuesday to overturn decisions by the Massachusetts insurance commissioners blocking a bunch of rate hikes on plans for small businesses and individuals.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, a nonprofit that's the largest health insurer in the state, and five other insurers, also nonprofits, filed suit in a state court in Boston. Their claim: the insurance commissioner exceeded his legal authority and arbitrarily set premium rates in the individual and small group market.

The rejected increases ranged from 8 to 32 percent.

On Thursday, the companies will try to get a judge to slap an injunction on the state's move, which blocked premium increases on April 1. All told, the insurance commissioner rejected 235 of 274 hikes proposed by insurers.

"What the commissioner did, we think, is going to create tremendous disruption in the marketplace,'' said Dean Richlin, a lawyer representing the insurers, according to a Boston Globe report.

At the time of the rejections, Gov. Deval Patrick said the state's decision was "about jobs and creating the conditions for small businesses to start hiring." Double-digit increases and premiums, he said, were hurt businesses and families in the state.

The insurers, for their part, say rising health costs — especially hospital rates and doctors' charges — are driving the increase in premiums. Three of the biggest insurers in the state had operating losses last year, the Globe reports.

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