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CT residents will have a chance to testify about proposed insurance rate hikes

The public will have a chance to vote on a demand from insurance companies to raise the cost of individual health plans next year by an average of 20.4%.

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

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

Anyone wishing to testify virtually can register by emailing [email protected] with their name and written remarks by noon August 12.

Those wishing to testify in person may register at the Legislative Assembly Office on the day of the hearing, beginning at 8:30 am Oral remarks will be limited to three minutes per person.

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

The requested increases are significantly higher than those requested last year for 2022 health policies. In 2021, carriers requested an average increase of 8.6% on individual plans and 12.9% on small plans. groups.

The proposals have drawn criticism from health care advocates, who fear more people are forgoing coverage because they cannot afford it.

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

“Our big concern right now is, coupled with inflation and the fallout from COVID, these proposed increases are causing problems. Our concern is that people are looking at it and deciding to go without health coverage because they just can’t afford it.

“My jaw hit the ground, obviously,” added Ted Doolittle, the state’s health care advocate. “I am deeply concerned that people will go without coverage because of these high prices. It is the responsibility of insurance companies and providers to explain to the people of the state why this is unavoidable and that there is no alternative.

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

So far, the insurance department has not granted that request, opting instead for the traditional format of an informational hearing that it has followed in recent years.

Three insurers sell policies 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 that cover 27,698 people. The proposed changes range from a decrease of 1.8% to an increase of 16.1%, depending on the plan.

The company also sought an average upside of 3.6% on small group policies that cover 19,271 residents. Suggested changes range from a decrease of 1.2% to an increase of 26.3%.

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

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

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

The Department of Insurance will make a decision this fall on how much of a raise to give – if any – for the various health plans.

Open registration for Health Policies 2023 begins November 1.