By MEGAN HALL
Providence, RI – Rhode Islanders who buy their own health insurance will pay an average of two percent more starting in April. But it could have been a lot worse.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island originally asked to increase its average rate for so called "direct pay members" by nearly eight percent. But Health Insurance Commissioner Chris Koller knocked that number down by not allowing the charges to include money for Blue Cross's reserves and state taxes.
Koller says people who buy their own insurance don't have the same protections as people with employer sponsored insurance do. "The direct pay subscriber base consists of 14,000 people who are absolutely the most vulnerable in the commercial health insurance market," he says. "We felt that they should not be charged assessments from the state or for Blue Cross profit."
In a written statement, Blue Cross says it is "extremely disappointed" with Koller's decision. The company says the nearly two percent rate increase isn't enough to cover its costs. The health insurance company has the option of appealing the rate increase in court.
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