Regence Blue Shield customers notified of skyrocketing rates



Posted on October 12, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Ralph Nilssen's five beautiful kids are about to get more expensive. Regence Blue Shield sent him a letter saying rates are going up - way up.

Regence put the blame - at least in part - on the new and controversial health care law.

"Obama care went into effect and my rates went through the roof," said Nilssen.

In the letter, Regence told Nilssen his $532 monthly premium could nearly triple next year.

"I just sat back and said you've got to be kidding me," he said.

"If they're angry and confused - it's easy to understand," said Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who has fielded more than 100 angry calls since Regence mailed its letter two weeks ago.

Kreidler says the letter makes it appear that healthcare reform is to blame, when in truth Regence has made a huge policy change that makes premiums for children much more expensive.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with health care reform.  It has a great deal to do with how Regence is rescheduling its business and it would have happened with or without heath care reform," said Kreidler.

Nilssen's current plan, where he pays one rate regardless of the number of children, is being cancelled by Regence. Now he'll have to pay a premium for each child.

A Regence spokesperson would not appear on camera, but points out that rates for people without children could go down under these new policies.

More about those rates. They are not set in stone.

The insurance commissioner isn't sure why Regence mailed them out because they haven't been approved by the insurance commissioner, as required by law. And Kreidler says they won't be until he sees proof that these big premium increases are justified.