CT residents will testify about proposed insurance rate increases

The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on insurance carriers’ request to increase costs for individual health plans next year by an average of 20.4 percent.

The state Department of Insurance has scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 15 beginning at 9 a.m. The hearing, usually held at a state office building downtown, will be held at the Legislative Office Building on Capitol Avenue in Hartford. The event was moved to accommodate the expected larger than usual crowd.

The hearing will have a hybrid format, with some people testifying in person and others testifying virtually. Insurance company representatives will have time to explain their requests for rate increases, and insurance department officials will ask questions.

Anyone who wants to testify virtually can sign up by emailing cid.RateFilings@ct.gov with their name and written notes by noon on August 12.

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

In addition to the significant average increase for individual plans, insurers selling policies on and off the Connecticut Affordable Care Exchange are seeking an average increase of 14.8 percent for small group plans.

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

The proposals have drawn criticism from health care advocates, who fear more people will drop coverage because they can’t afford it.

“It’s mind-blowing,” Lynn Ide, director of the communications and engagement program at the Universal Health Care Foundation in Connecticut, said last month. “Looking at these rate requests, the ranges are off the charts.

“Our big concern at the moment is that, combined with inflation and the fallout from COVID, these proposed increases are creating problems for spells. Our concern is that people will look at this and decide to go without health coverage because they simply cannot afford it.

“Apparently my jaw hit the floor,” added Ted Doolittle, the state’s health advocate. “I am deeply concerned that people will be left without coverage because of these high prices. It is the duty of insurance companies and providers to explain to the people of the state why this is inevitable and there is no alternative.”

Attorney General William Tong requested a special hearing that would allow officials to gather evidence and question insurers closely about their proposed increases. Officials will be able to question witnesses and present their own evidence in a public setting.

So far, the insurance division has not granted this request, instead opting for the traditional informational hearing format 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 percent for individual policies that cover 27,698 people. The proposed changes range from a 1.8% decrease to a 16.1% increase, depending on the plan.

The company also looked for an average increase of 3.6% on small group policies, which cover 19,271 residents. The proposed changes range from a 1.2% decrease to a 26.3% increase.

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

It also requested an average increase of 22.9 percent for small group plans that cover 3,476 residents (increases ranged from 20 percent to 28.9 percent).

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

The insurance department will decide this fall how much of an increase to give — if any — to the various health plans.

Open enrollment for 2023 health policies begins November 1.