Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania has received approval from the state to hike premium insurance rates for its customers by nearly 10 percent in the coming year on several of its products.
"All the approved rates are in the single digits," said Blue Cross spokesman Anthony Matrisciano. "In some cases they are substantially less than what is required to offset actual costs of members."
He said to make up the difference, the Wilkes-Barre-based company will be drawing about $14.3 million from its surplus fund.
The fund balance was $209 million at the end of 2011, the most recent figure available, he noted.
Individual products and the increases are as follows:
Blue Care Direct PPO - 2.9 percent.
Blue Care Select - 9.7 percent.
Blue Care Assure - 9.2 percent.
PPO Conversion, - 9.9 percent.
HMO Conversion - 9.9 percent.
Special Care - 7 percent.
Blue Care Security 65 - 6.2 percent.
Special Care, Mastrisciano noted, is directed at lower income customers.
"The increase we would actually need to cover the cost of care for those members is 136 percent," he said.
About 6,000 customers are enrolled with Special Care.
Blue Care Security is a Medicare supplement product with about 20,000 members, which represents the largest number of enrollees for any of the Blue Cross products.
Matrisciano said it marks the second year in a row that Blue Cross was able to avoid double-digit increases for members.
The increases, he added, are necessary to keep pace with overall rising medical costs.
At the same time, the number of Blue Cross customers has been dropping in recent years.
Current enrollment is about 540,000 customers, including those in Lycoming County.