Anthem Blue Cross parent cancels investor meeting


The parent company of Anthem Blue Cross has canceled a meeting next week with investors to review its 2010 financial outlook so that executives can prepare for a congressional hearing into its large rate hikes for individual policyholders in California.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has called WellPoint Inc. Chief Executive Angela F. Braly to testify Feb. 24 about planned premium increases of as much as 39% for many of Anthem’s 800,000 individual policyholders in California.

WellPoint delayed the hikes two months, to May 1, amid criticisms from consumers, state officials, members of Congress and the Obama administration.

The Indianapolis company attributed the hikes to soaring medical costs but said that less than a quarter of individual policyholders would see increases of 35% to 39%.

The company said the increases would average about 25% and that some customers could see rates fall.

The company had set the investor meeting for Tuesday, the day before the congressional hearing.

“The Investor Day program was canceled in order to allow the company to prepare appropriately for the hearing,” WellPoint said in a statement.

“The company is confident that its rates were established consistent with actuarial principles and state law, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss the underlying rise in health costs and actuarial dynamics which resulted in the need to increase individual health insurance rates.”

WellPoint said it would speak with investors in a March 17 conference call.

Executives with Woodland Hills-based Anthem Blue Cross have been called to testify Tuesday before the California Assembly’s health committee, which has scheduled a hearing on insurance rates in the state.