WellPoint undergoes national scrutiny

Colorado’s investigation into Anthem’s premium increases is now being echoed throughout the country.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, sent a letter to state insurance commissioners Tuesday, calling for a national inquiry into the data underpinning rising health insurance costs.

In Colorado, the state started an inquiry into increases in Anthem’s increase in premiums in February, ahead of the call for a nationwide check for WellPoint, Anthem’s parent company.

Sebelius’s letter came on the heels of WellPoint’s decision to withdraw a request for a 39 percent increase in California. Colorado’s increase averaged 24 percent, but in some cases went as high as 50 percent.

“In light of this recent finding, I urge that, to the extent that you have authority to do so, you re-examine any WellPoint increases in your state,” she wrote. “Even small errors can mean unaffordable premiums for policy holders.”

The state is finishing up its review of Anthem’s increase, and the division of insurance has 60 days to compile its findings and notify Anthem of its decision. Anthem can then appeal, if it chooses.