Rates for individual health plans sold through Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange and outside will increase an average of 9.4% next year, according to the state’s insurance department.
Small group plans will increase by an average of 7.4%.
Insurers requested larger increases, on average, 12.4% on individual policies and 14.8% on small groups. The plans cover around 188 thousand people.
Our focus is directly on consumers. Our dedicated team of actuaries and other professionals appropriately reduced requested increases in health insurance rates, said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais.
However, the ongoing challenge is to address the underlying issues that cause these premiums to increase. Our goal is clear: Connecticut consumers’ access to a robust and competitive health insurance market while effectively managing insurance costs.
The rates introduced today demonstrate the safety net in place to protect against unsupported increases. We remain committed to ensuring that health insurance is appropriately priced and accessible to consumers in Connecticut.
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Three insurers sell policies on the exchange: Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc. and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.
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CT Care Benefits called for an average increase of 12.7% in individual plans covering 64,482 people; an increase of 10.3% was granted. Increases range from 7.9% to 13% depending on the plan.
Insurance Rate Increases in 2024
ConnectiCare Insurance Company sought an average increase of 17.5% on individual policies covering 11,954 people. The insurance department approved a 15.3% increase. Increases range from 8.2% to 20% depending on the plan.
And Anthem requested an average increase of 9.8% on individual policies covering 33,939 people. The department approved 5.6%. Rate increases range from 1.1% to 11.3%.
The company also called for an average increase of 14.9% on small group policies; 5.1% were approved.
Attorney General William Tong called the fee increases too high.
Insurers sought inflated rates based on vague and unproven assumptions that contradict nationally supported data. The Connecticut Department of Insurance was right to cut those requirements and, for the first time, introduce affordability as a line of questioning in its review process this year, Tong said.
However, these rate increases remain too high and deeply unaffordable. Insurers right now have little to no incentive to keep health care costs or premiums low, and Connecticut families and small businesses are being crushed. We need to change this.
Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, and Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, said the increases make health insurance less affordable.
The Lamont administration’s approval of these significant rate hikes comes on the heels of last year’s scandalous double-digit rate increases. It’s a tone-deaf tone for thousands of Connecticut taxpayers whose family budgets have been crushed by inflation, they said in a joint statement. Health care continues to be increasingly unaffordable in Connecticut.
At a public hearing last month, frustrated residents, advocates and lawmakers urged the insurance department to refuse double-digit rate increases recommended by insurers.
Coming from a person who struggles with multiple conditions that are not covered by state insurance, I have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses, said Tenaya Taylor of Hartford. The rising rates are pretty unaffordable for me, along with the rising rent and cost of living. I have loved ones who are barely covered by insurance, who live paycheck to paycheck, take care of children, transportation, and family, and additional walking just wouldn’t be sustainable for their overall health.
Sen. Jorge Cabrera, D-Hamden, co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said residents cannot afford another rate increase.
We have families who sometimes have to decide between taking life-saving medications and putting food on the table. I spoke to many of these people, he said. Although we have taken several steps over the years to address the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drugs, people simply cannot afford these increases.
Insurance company leaders attributed the proposed increases to the rising cost of prescription drugs, increased demand for medical services and the impact of Medicaid cuts, among other changes.
For an insurer to be sustainable, rates must be adequate to cover claims payments and program administration costs, said Mark Meador, president of ConnectiCare, at the August hearing. In the last two years, we have had significant losses. For 2024, our plans’ premium levels must be sufficient to meet the health care needs of our members who depend on us.
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After another year of substantial recommended fee increases, legislative leaders say they will introduce a bill this upcoming session to overhaul Connecticut’s fee review process and require state officials to consider affordability when evaluating future increases.
Insurers last year requested an average increase of 20.4% on individual plans and 14.8% on small group policies. The insurance department ultimately approved 12.9% for individual plans and 7.9% for small groups.
Part of the review would involve holding a broader hearing that would allow state authorities to gather evidence and question carriers more extensively.
I’m concerned about how insurance companies are arriving at proposed rate increases, Cabrera said. I’m not getting a lot of details from them. We need to be able to do a deeper dive.
Tong also called for changes to the tariff review process.
Open enrollment for the 2024 coverage year begins November 1.
Jenna Carlesso is a reporter for The Connecticut Mirror (https://ctmirror.org/). Copyright 2023 The Connecticut Mirror.
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