The Connecticut Insurance Department’s prime mission is consumer protection. Helping consumers understand what drives health insurance rates is critical to the larger picture of how we can all work together to address rising health care costs.

What are the factors that are contributing to medical cost increases? The Insurance Department is committed to working with all stakeholders to address health care costs and answer those questions. These important collaborations are aimed at helping to effectively inform public policymakers so that Connecticut consumers have affordable insurance options and access to health care.

Consumers in Connecticut have an opportunity before them now to communicate with their health insurers by directly weighing in on the cost of their health insurance and I encourage everyone to participate. The Insurance Department is holding three public hearings over the course of two days — Aug. 3-4 — on proposed rate increases on individual plans for three of the largest carriers in the state — Anthem, ConnectiCare, and Aetna.

The strong public interest in these rate decisions is evidenced by the fact that more than 400 consumers have already provided feedback to the department through our online rate filing Web site since we announced the hearings in early June.

The hearings not only provide for policyholder comments, but I believe it is critically important for consumers to understand what factors drive the cost of their premiums. That is why I have called six health insurance rate hearings in the past two years since I was appointed Commissioner.

In these hearings, each carrier will state its case before state insurance regulators, responding to pointed and thorough questions from department actuaries and attorneys on the actuarial rationale for requesting the higher rates. What is very important to understand is that these rate increase requests are just that — requests. Last year, the department outright rejected many of the 2015 rate requests and reduced nearly all of them, ruling they were not actuarially justified.

The hearings are just one part of the Insurance Department’s transparent rate review process that began in June when all carriers filed their rate requests. All of the rate requests are posted on our website on a special rate filing page. You can access each company’s individual and small group filing, enter a comment directly related to your insurance company’s specific request, and view the back-and-forth correspondence between the Insurance Department actuary and the company.

Online comments that the Insurance Department receives that are directly related to the hearings will become part of the official public record of those hearings. Our final rulings on all the rate requests will be released in early September and posted on our website in time for open enrollment for the 2017 plan year.

Public Hearing Details:

When: Wednesday, August 3, 9 a.m. – Anthem
Thursday, August 4, 9 a.m. – ConnectiCare
Thursday, August 4, 1 p.m. – Aetna
Where: Connecticut Insurance Department, 153 Market Street, 7th Floor Hearing Room, Hartford.