CT residents testify about proposed insurance rate hike

CT residents testify about proposed insurance rate hike

The public will have the opportunity to assess the request of insurance carriers to increase the cost of individual health plans by an average of 20.4% next year.

The state insurance department has scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 15 beginning at 9 a.m. The hearing, usually held at the state office building downtown, will be held at the Legislative Office Building on Capitol Avenue in Hartford. The event has been moved to accommodate the expected larger than usual crowd.

The hearing will have a hybrid format, with some people testifying in person and others virtually. Insurance representatives will have time to explain their requests for rate increases and insurance department officials will ask questions.

Anyone interested in testifying virtually can sign up by emailing [email protected] with their name and written comments by noon on August 12.

Those who want to testify in person can register at the legislative office building on the day of the hearing starting at 8:30 a.m. Oral remarks will be limited to three minutes per person.

In addition to the substantial average increase for individual plans, insurers selling policies on and off Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange are seeking an average increase of 14.8% for small group plans.

The requested increases are substantially higher than those requested last year for health policies for 2022. Carriers requested an average increase of 8.6% for individual plans and 12.9% for small group plans in 2021.

The proposals have drawn criticism from health care advocates, who worry more people will drop coverage because they can’t afford it.

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

“Our big concern at the moment, along with inflation and the aftermath of COVID, is these proposed problems with increasing spells. Our concern is that people look at this and decide to go without health insurance because they just can’t afford it.”

“Of course, my jaw hit the floor,” added Ted Doolittle, the state’s health care attorney. “I am deeply concerned that people will be without coverage because of these high prices. It is the duty of insurance companies and providers to explain to the people of the state why this is necessary and there is no alternative.”

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

So far, the Insurance Department has not granted that request, opting instead for the traditional informational hearing format it has followed in recent years.

Three insurance companies sell contracts on the exchange: Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc. and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.

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

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

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

It also sought an average increase of 22.9% for small group plans that cover 3,476 residents (increases range from 20% to 28.9%).

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

The Insurance Department will make a decision this fall on how much increase — if any — to allocate to the various health plans.

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

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