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Public hearing set for proposed rate increases for 2024 health plans

Small employers can still enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage through insurers or brokers, but not through the online exchanges.
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Connecticut's Insurance Department will hold a public hearing Aug. 21 on possible rate hikes for insurance companies selling policies on and off the state's Affordable Care Act Exchange.

Leaders at the state’s insurance department, now considering rate hikes on many 2024 health plans, have scheduled a public hearing so residents can comment on the suggested increases.

Insurance companies selling policies on and off Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange have asked for an average hike of 12.4% on individual health plans next year and 14.8% on small group plans. Attorney General William Tong said the proposed increases are “simply unaffordable for too many Connecticut families.”

The requests are smaller than what carriers sought last year for 2023 health plans but significantly higher than in previous years.

The public will have a chance to weigh in at 9 a.m. on Aug. 21. Testimony can be shared in person at the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave. in Hartford, or via Zoom. Officials with the insurance department and representatives of several insurance companies are expected to attend. Last year’s public hearing also drew legislators and health care advocates.

“Nobody out there is getting a 12.4% wage increase. So it’s the same story as we’ve seen the past few years — a lot more expenses for the average family to absorb,” said Ted Doolittle, the state’s health care advocate.

Here’s what to know about the requests and how to sign up for the hearing.

What kind of rate hikes are insurers seeking?

Three insurers are selling policies on the exchange: Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc., and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.

Anthem is seeking an average increase of 9.8% on individual plans that cover 33,939 people. The proposed increases range from 6.8% to 13.6%, depending on the policy.

The company is also asking for an average hike of 14.9% on small group plans that cover 27,565 people. The suggested increases range from 8.9% to 22.1%.

CTCare Benefits Inc. requested an average hike of 12.7% for individual policies that cover 64,482 people. The proposed increases range from 10.2% to 15.5%.

And ConnectiCare Insurance Company is seeking an average hike of 17.5% on individual policies that cover 11,954 people. The recommended increases range from 10.2% to 22.2%, depending on the plan.

Insurers are also asking for rate increases on policies off the exchange. A full list can be found here.

How do I sign up to comment?

Anyone who wants to testify virtually can sign up by sending an email to cid.RateFIlings@ct.gov with their name and written remarks by 5 p.m. on Aug. 18.

Those who want to testify in person can sign up at the Legislative Office Building the day of the hearing, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Oral remarks will be limited to three minutes per person.

The public can also submit written comments on the department’s website any time during the rate review process. (To submit comments, click the “select” button below each filing.)

What’s happening with the requests now?

Insurance department actuaries are reviewing the requests. As part of the review, they will look at trends in unit cost (total expenditure incurred by the company), utilization of services and expected severity of claims. They can ask questions of insurers and seek clarifications if needed.

The department may approve the full request, reject it or amend it.

“The review process will delve deeply into each submission, requiring insurers to provide justifications and supporting evidence,” department officials said in a statement. “As always, our rate reviews will be comprehensive, continuing our ongoing efforts to promote transparency and accountability. By utilizing various tools, such as benchmarking and other industry best practices, we strive to maintain a fair and competitive insurance market while prioritizing the interests of consumers.”

Consumer affordability is not a consideration in the process, however. Some advocates have called for that to change.

Why are carriers seeking higher rates?

Insurers have attributed the proposed hikes to the rising cost of prescription drugs, increased demand for medical services and the impact of Medicaid unwinding, among other changes.

“We remain extremely mindful of the impact that rate increases have on our members,” Kimberly Kann, a spokeswoman for ConnectiCare, has said. “Our proposed rates are determined by medical and pharmacy cost trends and our members’ need for care. We are committed to supporting the state’s health insurance marketplace and providing Connecticut residents with high-quality health plans, as we have for over 40 years.”

“We’re committed to ensuring consumers have a choice of health plans that offer affordability, access to quality care and benefits that meet their needs,” said Stephanie DuBois, a spokeswoman for Anthem. “Our filing 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.”

When will a decision be issued?

Final decisions on the rates are typically made public in September.

Are rate hikes always approved in full?

No. Last year, for example, insurers sought an average increase of 20.4% on individual health plans and 14.8% on small group policies. The insurance department ultimately approved an average hike of 12.9% on individual plans and 7.9% on small group.

In 2021, the department signed off on an average rate increase of 5.6% for individual health plans, even though carriers had requested 8.6%. And it approved an average rate hike of 6.7% for small group policies; insurers had asked for 12.9%.

When does open enrollment begin?

Open enrollment for the 2024 coverage year begins Nov. 1.

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