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Consumer group: Insurers kept surplus while hiking premiums

The Chicago Sun-Times, July 22, 2010

Non-profit Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans stockpiled billions of dollars during the past decade, yet continued to hit consumers with double-digit premium increases, Consumers Union found in an analysis of 10 of the plans' finances.

Insurers must keep surplus money to ensure they can pay policyholders' medical bills if unexpected market conditions develop. Yet seven of the plans examined held more than three times the amount regulators consider the minimum needed to do that, according to a report being released today by the non-profit consumer group.

"Consumers are struggling to afford health coverage," said report author Sondra Roberto. "Those funds could be used in some cases to mitigate these rate increases."