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Blue Cross employer premium hikes OK'd in RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Rhode Island's health insurance commissioner has granted conditional approval to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island's mid-year request for a premium hike for employers.

Commissioner Christopher Koller said Friday he approved an average hike of about 3.7 percent for small employers and 7.9 percent for large employers. Blue Cross had been seeking larger increases.

Koller said he approved the mid-year request because of what he called a "credible" threat to the company's financial condition due to unexpected increased medical expenses.

He said he granted it with several conditions, including that Blue Cross submit a financial recovery plan. Blue Cross also must introduce by May 2014 a new "affordable" plan priced at least 15 percent less than one with comparable benefits.