The public will have an opportunity to comment on a plan by insurance carriers to increase the cost of individual health insurance by an average of 20.4% over the next year.
The state Department of Insurance has scheduled a public hearing for August 15, beginning at 9 a.m. The hearing, which is normally held in a downtown state office building, will be held in the Legislative Office Building on Capitol Avenue in Hartford. The event has been postponed to accommodate what is expected to be a larger than usual crowd.
The hearing will have a hybrid format, with some individuals testifying in person and others virtually. Insurance company officials will have time to explain their requests for rate hikes, and insurance department officials will ask questions.
Anyone wishing to testify virtually may register by emailing their name and written comments to [email protected] by noon on August 12.
Those wishing to testify in person can register in the Legislative Office Building from 8:30 a.m. on the day of the hearing. Verbal comments are limited to three minutes per person.
In addition to the significant average increase in individual plans, insurers selling policies on and off Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange are targeting an average increase of 14.8% in small group plans!
The increases requested are significantly higher than those sought for Health Policy 2022 last year. Airlines demanded an average increase of 8.6% for single plans and 12.9% for small group plans in 2021.
The proposals have drawn criticism from health care advocates who fear more people will forgo coverage because they can’t afford it.
“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.”
“My jaw obviously hit the ground,” added Ted Doolittle, the state’s health advocate. “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.”
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.
To date, the insurance division has not granted that request, opting instead for the traditional informational hearing format it has followed for the past several years.
Three insurers sell policies on the exchange: Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc., and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.
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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%).
The ConnectiCare Insurance Company, 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%.
The insurance department will decide this fall how much increase — if any — to give to the various health plans.
Open registration for the 2023 health guidelines begins on November 1st.