Insurance companies propose significant rate hikes in CT. Here’s what you should know

Insurance companies that sell policies inside and outside the Connecticut Affordable Care Act interchange stunned proponents in July when they called for an average 20.4% increase on individual health insurance plans for the next year.

The proposed rate hikes, released last month by the state insurance department, also include a recommended 14.8% increase for small group health plans.

Requests are significantly higher than what insurers have been asking for for Health Coverage 2022 over the past year. Airlines demanded an average increase of 8.6% for single plans and 12.9% for small group plans in 2021.

“It’s amazing,” said Lynne Ide, program director for communications and engagement at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, last month. “If you look at these rate requests, the ranges are off the charts.

“Our major concern at the moment is that these proposed hikes, combined with inflation and the fallout from COVID, pose problems. Our concern is that people will look at this and decide not to have health insurance because they just can’t afford it.”

The insurance department is considering the applications and is expected to make a decision in September. Before that, the public has an opportunity to comment on the proposed rate hikes.

The Insurance Division has scheduled a public hearing for August 15, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building (300 Capital Ave. in Hartford).

The public can testify in person or virtually. Registration for personal testimony opens at 8:30 am on the day of the hearing in the Legislative Office Building.

The registration deadline for the virtual testimony is today (12 August). Anyone wishing to testify virtually may register by emailing their name and written comments to [email protected] by noon.

Insurance company officials will be given time to explain their requests for rate hikes, and insurance department officials will be able to ask questions. The hearing will be broadcast on CT-N.

Here’s what you should know about suggestions.

What do insurance companies charge?

Three insurers sell policies on the Connecticut Stock Exchange: Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc., and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.

Anthem claimed an average increase of 8.6% for individual policies covering 27,698 people. The proposed changes range from a 1.8% reduction to a 16.1% increase, depending on the plan.

The company was also targeting an average increase of 3.6% on policies for small groups, covering 19,271 residents. The proposed changes range from a 1.2% decrease to a 26.3% increase.

CTCare Benefits claimed an average increase of 24.1% for individual plans covering 75,003 people. The proposed changes range from an increase of 18.7% to 33.2%, depending on the policy.

An average increase of 22.9% was also targeted for small group plans covering 3,476 residents (increases range from 20% to 28.9%).

ConnectiCare, which only sells individual policies on the exchange, asked for an average increase of 25.2% for plans covering 8,782 people. The proposed increases range from 17.1% to 32.2%.

For a full list of plans on and off the exchange, as well as rate hike requests, click here.

Why are insurers asking for higher rates?

Kimberly Kann, a spokeswoman for ConnectiCare, said medical and pharmaceutical costs are two of the factors driving the rate increase the company is asking for.

“Our proposed rates are based on several factors, including medical and pharmacy cost trends, as well as the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our members’ consumption of services, including the consumption of delayed supplies,” she said.

“The legal and regulatory environment also continues to present the market with challenges beyond the Company’s control, including the loss of enhanced Advanced Premium Tax Credits granted by the American Rescue Plan Act, which expires in 2022, and state-mandated benefits .”

Alessandra Simkin, a spokeswoman for Anthem, said, “Our application reflects our experience and ability to deliver on behalf of consumers in this market, and we look forward to working with the state as we continue the regulatory process.”

Insurers will send representatives from their companies to a public hearing in August where they will be questioned in more detail about the proposed increases.

What happens next?

Insurance Department actuaries review the requested increases. As part of the review, they will examine trends in unit costs (total spend by the business), service consumption, and expected claim severity. The department will put questions to insurers and ask for clarification if necessary. It will also hold a public hearing to gather input from sponsors, healthcare professionals and the public.

After review, the department can approve, deny, or change the entire requested increase to a different number. The final changes are expected to be released in late August or early September.

Are proposed rate hikes always approved?

no Last year, for example, the state insurance department approved an average rate increase of 5.6% for 2022 individual health plans, even though carriers had requested 8.6%.

The department approved an average rate hike of 6.7% for small group policies, despite insurers asking for 12.9%.

In 2020, Anthem Health Plans had asked for an average 9.9% increase in its individual plans, which served 22,071 people through the exchange. The insurance department approved a 1.9% increase.

That same year, ConnectiCare Benefits Inc. was targeting an average 5.5% increase in its individual plans on the stock market, which then covered 75,174 customers. The insurance department signed a 0.1% decline.

How was the reaction?

Health care advocates have criticized the proposed increases, saying they fear more people will be left without coverage because the prices are too high.

“My jaw obviously hit the floor,” said Ted Doolittle, the state’s health attorney. “I am deeply concerned that these high prices are leaving people without cover. It is up to the insurance companies and the providers to explain to the people in the country why this is inevitable and there is no alternative.”

Ide of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut said the proposed increases “do not seem to make sense.”

“Why one airline would charge an average of 8.6% in the single market and 3.6% in the small group market and the other airline would charge 24% and 22% in those two markets – it looks like they’ve pulled those Numbers out of a hat,” she said.

Attorney General William Tong asked for a special hearing that would allow officials to gather evidence and scrupulously question insurers about their proposed increases. Officials could cross-examine witnesses and present their own evidence in a public setting.

The Insurance Division did not consent to the formal hearing.

“Health care costs and insurance premiums are already prohibitive for many Connecticut families, businesses and individuals, and these double-digit rate hikes require close scrutiny,” Tong said.

When does open enrollment begin?

Open registration for the 2023 health guidelines begins on November 1st.

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