Health insurance companies holding on to surpluses - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Health insurance companies holding on to surpluses

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Premera Blue Cross is one of Washington's largest non-profit health insurers and they currently hold a surplus of more than one billion dollars. They're also asking for a rate increase.

Premera Blue Cross and Regence BlueShield are setting aside more than they're required to in reserves and that's caught the attention of Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. However, current state law requires him to disregard surpluses when reviewing rate increases.

Rich Roesler, spokesperson for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, says it's a growing issue.

"Under current law we have to sort of turn a blind eye to theses huge surpluses that the companies have built up and as the amounts get bigger and bigger and bigger it's increasingly like trying to ignore the elephant in the room," says Roesler.

Kreidler has proposed legislation three times to change those rules. The state senate shot down his most recent attempt earlier this year.