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Big jumps in insurance premiums will get new scrutiny

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 8, 2011
Georgia consumers who are weary of increases in the cost of health insurance should take note: Insurers will soon have to provide more detailed, consumer-friendly justifications if they plan to hike your premiums by 10% or more Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens has officially warned Georgia companies of the change, which will take effect next month as part of the national health care overhaul. The new requirement -- which applies to individual and small group plans -- doesn't guarantee that the rapid escalation in health insurance prices will slow. But it will force the state's insurers, who do not have to get permission to raise rates, to fully explain why they are charging more. Georgia insurers have frequently bumped up premiums by more than 10% in recent years for consumers who buy their own insurance in the individual market. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, the state's largest insurer, has hit thousands of its customers with hikes of 20% or more in recent years, according to state records.

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