WASHINGTON - The Obama administration asked California’s largest for-profit health insurer yesterday to justify plans to increase premiums by as much as 39 percent, a move that could affect about 800,000 customers.
In a letter to the president of
“I believe Anthem Blue Cross has a responsibility to provide a detailed justification for these rate increases to the public,’’ Sebelius wrote. She said the company should also make public what percentage of customers’ premiums go to medical care versus administrative costs.
Peggy Hinz, a spokeswoman for Anthem, said she would check whether the letter had been received.
President Obama cited the Anthem rate hikes in an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric on Sunday as a reason to move forward with his health overhaul legislation, which is stalled in Congress.
“That’s a portrait of the future if we don’t do something now,’’ Obama said. “It’s going to keep on beating down families, small businesses, large businesses. It’s going to be a huge drain on the economy.’’
In a statement last week, the company blamed the increases on rising costs of medical care.