Blue Cross rate boost approved

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s insurance regulator has approved a rate increase of at least 9 percent for about 26,000 customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield with individual plans.

The Office of Superintendent of Insurance said Monday there will be increases of 9.2 percent or 10.4 percent starting in December for the company’s policyholders.

The regulatory agency attributed about 5 percent to 6 percent of the increase to rising medical costs and the remainder to fees imposed on insurers by a federal health-care overhaul law.

Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said 80 percent of the premiums collected by Blue Cross must be spent on medical expenses.

Franchini encouraged consumers who don’t obtain health insurance through their employer to explore buying coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange, which will accept applications next month.

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