(Updated) Connecticut’s Congressional delegation asked state Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan to look into the rate increases it approved last year for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Anthem recently withdrew its 39 percent rate increase request in California after that state’s regulators cited incorrect data used by the company to justify its proposed rate increase.
In Connecticut Anthem requested a rate increase of more than 30 percent last summer. But after public outcry and a rare state Insurance Department public hearing, Anthem was granted rate increases between 13 and 20 percent, not the 22 to 32 percent rate increases it had requested.
U.S. Representatives Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Chris Murphy and Jim Himes want Sullivan to make sure the data used in increasing Connecticut’s rates wasn’t based on similar incorrect data.
“At this point, Anthem has an established record of using incorrect data in attempting to impose exorbitant rate increases in California,” said Courtney. “They tried to impose similar increases in Connecticut, and although their most blatant attempts were quashed, their entire methodology is suspect, and necessitates investigation.”
Sullivan said his office is already looking into the matter.
“In June, I directed my staff to leave no stone unturned and once again review Anthem’s rate filings,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “We are in the process of conducting our review to make sure that consumers were not adversely impacted by any mathematical errors in Anthem’s filing.”
Anthem said it will cooperate.
“Anthem has, and will continue to cooperate with the Department of Insurance,” Sarah yeager, Anthem’s spokewoman said. “Anthem respects the Commissioner’s responsibility to ensure rate accuracy and adequacy and will continue to cooperate as needed.”
However, Connecticut’s Congressional delegation went one step further in calling for an independent audit of the Connecticut filings.
“We would further request that you follow the recommendations outlined by the Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, and Connecticut State Healthcare Advocate, Kevin Lembo, to pursue an independent audit of Anthem’s premium rate increase, at Anthem’s expense,” the delegation wrote in its letter to Sullivan. “Like the independent audit in California, an independent audit of Anthem’s premium increase in Connecticut will provide critical oversight of potentially faulty data, including double counting of risk factors, used to calculate the premium increases that took effect for thousands of individuals in Connecticut this year.”
While it didn’t respond directly to questions about an independent audit Sullivan said as early as last month that Connecticut and California are governed by different insurance regulations.
“Here in Connecticut, the Insurance Department has strong regulatory authority and there are already several consumer protections in place, like requiring prior-approval over individual health insurance rates. California law, on the other hand, permits companies to use rates without the prior approval of California insurance regulators,” Sullivan said in May.
“In total, my staff spent approximately 250 hours analyzing and testing assumptions, reviewing evidence, and evaluating public comment. As a result of discrepancies related to trends, claim history, and operating margins used in the rate development, many which were identified in California’s review, I denied the original rate increase request,” Sullivan said. “Anthem was authorized to refile rate increases that were in line with our recommendations, which was 39 percent -58 percent lower than the original request, and was not effective until six months later.”