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WellPoint Unit to Cut Some Small Group Rates

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Anthem Blue Cross has agreed to cut the quarterly premium increase for some group health products sold in California to 3%, from 6%, officials say.

Anthem Blue, a unit of WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis (NYSE:WLP), says the average quarterly rate increases will be halved for employers that have the Solution 2500 PPO, Solution 3500 PPO and Solution 5000 PPO plans, officials say.

The new, lower increases are set to take effect July 1.

The affected plans serve businesses with 2 to 50 employees.

The plans cover a total of about 18,000 people, officials say.

The rate filing is one of the first small group rate filings that the California Department of Insurance has reviewed since a new rate review law took effect Jan. 1, officials say.

The California state Senate is considering Assembly Bill 52, a bill approved by the Senate that would limit health insurers to one rate increase per year and give the insurance commissioner the authority to reject rate increases, officials say.

- Allison Bell

Other California rate review coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: