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Many Connecticut health insurance plans will see double-digit rate hikes in 2023

ConnectiCare Insurance Company, Inc President Karen Moran listens to the Insurance  commisinor during the Connecticut Insurance Department informational public meeting on the health insurance rate requests filed by eight insurance companies for 2023 plans both on and off Access Health CT, the state’s federal Affordable Care Act exchange at the Legislative Office building in Hartford, Connecticut August 15, 2022.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
ConnectiCare Insurance Company, Inc President Karen Moran listens to the Insurance commisinor during the Connecticut Insurance Department informational public meeting on the health insurance rate requests filed by eight insurance companies for 2023 plans both on and off Access Health CT, the state’s federal Affordable Care Act exchange at the Legislative Office building in Hartford, Connecticut August 15, 2022.

The cost of health insurance plans on and off Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange will increase next year by as much as 25%, according to final numbers released by the state Friday, deepening concerns about health care access.

Insurance officials signed off on the rate changes eight weeks after carriers proposed an average increase of 20.4% across individual plans and 14.8% across small group policies. The department approved an average hike of 12.9% on individual plans and 7.9% on small group.

The approved changes range from a decrease of 6% on certain policies to increases of 20% and 25% on others.

While the average increase approved by the state is lower than the rate requested by the insurance companies, it still represents a significant increase in costs to consumers in the coming year.

“Working on behalf of consumers, the department’s hard-working actuaries and professional staff were able to reduce the health insurance rate increase requests. But the skyrocketing cost of health care that these premiums cover must be addressed,” Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said. “The unit cost of hospital inpatient and outpatient care has risen about 9% per year. Prescription drug prices have risen even higher.

“The rates announced today will continue to protect consumers from inflationary pricing and unwarranted profits while ensuring Connecticut residents have access to a stable, competitive health insurance market. But we must examine other available avenues to reduce overall costs and keep care, and this insurance, affordable.”

ConnectiCare Benefits Inc., which sells plans on and off the exchange to 75,003 people, requested an average hike of 24% for individual policies on the exchange. The insurance department signed off on an average increase of 15%, with hikes ranging from 10% to 23.6%, depending on the plan.

ConnectiCare Benefits also asked for an average increase of 22.9% on its small group policies offered through the exchange. The department approved 15%, with increases ranging from 13.1% to 18.9%, depending on the plan. The policies cover 3,476 people.

Anthem Health Plans, which sells policies to 27,698 people through the exchange, requested an average increase of 8.6% on its individual plans. The insurance department approved an average of 6.3%. Depending on the policy, rate changes range from a decrease of 3.9% to an increase of 13.6%.

Anthem sought a 3.6% average hike on its small group plans. The department approved an average decrease of 1.4%. Changes range from a decrease of 6% to an increase of 20.2% for policies that cover 19,271 people.

ConnectiCare Insurance Company, which offers plans on and off the exchange, requested an average hike of 25.2% for its individual policies on the exchange. The department signed off on a 15% increase. Increases range from 9.1% to 20.3%, depending on the plan. There are 8,782 people enrolled.

Off-exchange policies range from a 0% increase (Aetna Life Insurance small group) to an increase of 25.1% (an individual plan through ConnectiCare Benefits).

ConnectiCare has attributed its increases to rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, as well as delayed care due to the pandemic.

Karen Moran, ConnectiCare’s president, said at a public hearing in August that the company sustained over $65 million in losses in the individual market over the last year because rate increases have not kept up with higher utilization of medical services and the cost of prescription drugs, among other expenses.

“For an insurance program to be sustainable, rates must be adequate to provide for payment of claims and the administrative costs of running the program. For the past year, the total insurance premiums we have received are far less than the cost of care we’ve actually funded,” she said. “The premiums previously approved by the insurance department were significantly below what was necessary for us to meet the needs of the members. … The single most important driver in our proposed rate increase is to restore rates to an adequate level.”

Cigna, which offers small group policies off the exchange, had asked for an average hike of 19.6% on its plans. The insurance department signed off on 12%.

Sarah Souza, small group actuarial director for Cigna, said last month that even with the increases for 2023 plans, the company’s premiums would be lower than the market average.

“For silver plans, which are the most popular amongst small employers, we have the lowest plan in six out of the eight rating areas representing the vast majority of where small employers are located,” she said.

Residents and health care advocates urged state insurance officials to reject the substantial rate increases.

“It’s jaw dropping,” Lynne Ide, program lead for communications outreach and engagement at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, said in July. “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 spell trouble. Our concern is that people will take a look at this and decide to go without health coverage, because they just can’t afford it.”

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

Open enrollment for 2023 health policies begins on Nov. 1.

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