Anthem Blue Cross Customers Pursue Case Over Changing Deductibles

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Some Anthem Blue Cross policyholders are pressing a court fight over the company's midyear changes in annual deductibles and other limits on out-of-pocket medical costs.

Dave Jacobson, a film production supervisor in Santa Monica, is one of the plaintiffs who filed suit against Anthem over the changes in 2011. Jacobson, who bought his Anthem policy in 2000, said the company increased his annual deductible from $500 to $550. Meantime, he said, his premiums have doubled in the past five years.

"Halfway through the year, my deductible becomes a moving target," he said. "You are used to premiums going up and up, but not this."

The lawsuit claims the state's largest for-profit health insurer improperly changed renewals for some individual policyholders from one year to one month, allowing the company to alter its benefits, deductibles and other items repeatedly throughout the year.

A court hearing on the suit is scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The case accuses Anthem of breach of contract and unfair business practices.

Anthem denies the accusations and says it has the right to change the benefits of these individual health policies with proper notice.

"All changes were made with the knowledge and approval of state regulators," said company spokesman Darrel Ng. "Adjusting benefits is not a breach of contract and can help lessen premium increases."

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