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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    Hearing on proposed health insurance rate increases to be held Aug.15

    The state Insurance Department is scheduled to hold a public hearing Aug. 15 on a proposal by nine health insurance providers to increase health insurance rates for 2023.

    The largest rate increases would be for the individual insurance markets, where providers are seeking a 20% rate increase. In 2022, companies filed for an average 8.6% increase on individual rates.

    The average small group rate increase request for 2023 is 14.8%, compared to 12.9% in 2022. Small group rates are for employers with 50 workers or fewer.

    According to the state’s insurance department, the plans subject to rate increases cover approximately 206,000 people.

    Attorney General William Tong asked the insurance department this week to postpone the hearing as the U.S. Senate debates the extension of a related tax credit that would lower costs for insurers. The department denied his request.

    “The tax credit extension would be a game changer, and may significantly reduce the need for an increase. It would be a dereliction of our duty to consumers to proceed with a hearing on rates built on what now appears to be a bad guess,” Tong said in a statement.

    State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, who warned her constituents of the hearing via email this week, said that she was glad the department denied Tong’s postponement request because “I think everyone involved with these rate increases should be there to one, voice their concern, ask their questions, and two, if you’re representing an insurance company, explain what the genesis of the increase is.”

    The insurance companies looking for rate increases are Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, ConnectiCare Benefits Inc., ConnectiCare Inc., ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc., Oxford Health Insurance, United Healthcare Insurance Company and Oxford Health Plans CT, Inc.

    The state Insurance Department said in a statement that the carriers’ reasons for increases are due to the increased cost of prescription drugs, an increased demand for medical attention, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in an “increase in morbidity.”

    “In addition, there is an expectation of pent-up demand experienced throughout 2022 and a continued increase in behavioral health disease anticipated in 2022,” the department stated.

    Another major reason for the rate increase request is the end of federal American Rescue Plan Act subsidies.

    “I am sure the providers are telling us what they believe the cause of the increase is. But the explanations behind the increase in the cost of health insurance is a blame game,” Cheeseman said. “Insurance companies blame hospital chains and government mandates. Hospital chains blame insurance companies and drug providers. Drug providers blame pharmacy benefit managers … The people who get caught in the crossfire are the people who are paying for the premiums.”

    “If you are not fortunate enough to be either covered by the government with Medicaid, have employer coverage, or you get subsidies through the exchange, you’re paying a fortune for health care, and indeed if you’re a small business employer, you’re seeing your costs go through the roof,” Cheeseman added.

    The state’s insurance department has the power to approve, reject or alter the insurance companies’ requests. The department is projecting it will make a decision in September.

    The Aug. 15 hearing at 9 a.m. will be held both in person at the Legislative Office Building and online. It can be publicly viewed on CT-N. People can submit questions and comments, and are able to speak virtually at the meeting on Zoom, but they must send an email to cid.RateFilings@ct.gov with their name and comments by Aug, 12. Those who wish to speak in person at the event can sign up on Aug. 15 at the Legislative Office Building starting at 8:30 a.m.


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