Many CT medical health insurance plans to see double-digit rate hikes

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The associated fee of medical health insurance plans on and off Connecticut’s Inexpensive Care Act Exchange will increase next 12 months by as much as 25%, in response to final numbers released by the state Friday, deepening concerns about health care access.

Insurance officials signed off on the speed changes eight weeks after carriers proposed a median increase of 20.4% across individual plans and 14.8% across small group policies. The department approved a median hike of 12.9% on individual plans and seven.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 common rate hike approved by the state is lower than what the insurance firms requested, it still represents a big boost in costs to consumers in the approaching 12 months.

“Working on behalf of consumers, the department’s hard-working actuaries and skilled staff were able to cut back the medical health insurance rate increase requests. However the skyrocketing cost of health care that these premiums cover have to be addressed,” Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said in an announcement. “The unit cost of hospital inpatient and outpatient care has risen about 9% per 12 months. Prescription drug prices have risen even higher.

“The rates announced today will proceed to guard consumers from inflationary pricing and unwarranted profits while ensuring Connecticut residents have access to a stable, competitive medical health insurance market. But we must examine other available avenues to cut back overall costs and keep care, and this insurance, reasonably priced.”

Residents and health care advocates had urged state insurance officials to reject the substantial rate hikes. On Friday, they reiterated their concerns about how the finalized rates would affect health care access and affordability.

“Health care costs and insurance premiums were already unaffordable for a lot of Connecticut families and small businesses,” Attorney General Tong said Friday. “These double-digit rate hikes – amongst the best within the country – will only make that worse.”

“I’m glad the insurance department did a thoughtful review and got here forth with cuts to the outlandish requested rate increases. But it surely’s still too high,” State Health Care Advocate Ted Doolittle said. “I’m concerned about access [to coverage] with these still-large rate hikes.”

Lynne Ide, program lead for communications outreach and engagement on the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, said the General Assembly should pass laws giving the insurance department “more teeth” in the speed review process, including making consumer affordability a priority.

“The final result is that hardworking individuals and small businesses who are attempting to supply insurance to their employees are left hanging,” she said. “We’d like more time for these rates to be reviewed. And we’d like ways for other points of view to be inserted – in a real way – into the method. We’d like to require that [the insurance department] puts consumer affordability front and center.”

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

ConnectiCare Advantages also asked for a median increase of twenty-two.9% on its small group policies offered through the exchange. The department approved 15%, with increases starting 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 a median increase of 8.6% on its individual plans. The insurance department approved a median of 6.3%. Depending on the policy, rate changes range from a decrease of three.9% to a rise of 13.6%.

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

ConnectiCare Insurance Company, which offers plans on and off the exchange, requested a median 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 twenty.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 a rise of 25.1% (a person plan through ConnectiCare Advantages).

ConnectiCare has attributed its increases to rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, in addition to delayed care resulting from the pandemic.

Karen Moran, ConnectiCare’s president, said at a public hearing in August that the corporate sustained over $65 million in losses in the person market during the last 12 months because rate increases haven’t kept up with higher utilization of medical services and the price of prescribed drugs, amongst other expenses.

“For an insurance program to be sustainable, rates have to be adequate to supply for payment of claims and the executive costs of running this system. For the past 12 months, the overall insurance premiums we now have received are far lower than the price of care we’ve actually funded,” she said. “The premiums previously approved by the insurance department were significantly below what was needed for us to satisfy the needs of the members. … The one most significant driver in our proposed rate increase is to revive rates to an adequate level.”

Cigna, which offers small group policies off the exchange, had asked for a median 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 corporate’s premiums can be lower than the market average.

“For silver plans, that are the most well-liked amongst small employers, we now have the bottom plan in six out of the eight rating areas representing the overwhelming majority of where small employers are positioned,” she said.

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

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