SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Blue Shield of California says it is withdrawing its plan to increase health insurance rates for individual policyholders in what would have been the third such rate hike since October.

   Blue Shield chief executive Bruce Bodaken said in a statement Wednesday that it’s nixing the planned May 1 increase to help keep coverage affordable.

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   The three increases combined would have raised members’ average rates by 30 percent, though increases for some would have been much greater.

   The San Francisco-based nonprofit has said rising HealthCare costs forced the rate hikes.

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   Blue Shield said Wednesday it lost $27 million on individual policies last year and expects more such losses this year.

   The insurer says members will be spared $35 million to $40 million in added premiums because of the cancelled increase.

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