CTNewsJunkie file photo
Access Health CT enrollment center in New Britain (CTNewsJunkie file photo)

Even though Anthem was told it had to resubmit its proposed 2017 insurance rates to the Insurance Department by the close of business Sept. 7, those rates still won’t include commissions for insurance brokers to recommend plans on Connecticut’s insurance exchange.

Neither Anthem or ConnectiCare, which is challenging the Insurance Department’s decision to set its average on-exchange rate increase at 17.4 percent in court, included broker commissions in their rate requests.

“It’s a very unfortunate decision,” John Calkins, a member of the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters, said.

Forty percent of all the business done on Connecticut’s insurance exchange, also known as Access Health CT, came from brokers.

Calkins said Access Health CT is at fault for not mandating carriers to pay broker commissions.

He said if 40 percent of the exchange’s customers aren’t able to ask an independent, third party for help choosing the appropriate plan for their family then it’s unclear where customers will be able to turn for help.

Access Health CT has declined further comment on the issue.

In July, Access Health CT CEO James Wadleigh said it was preparing for a decision by the carriers not to pay broker commissions. Wadleigh said if that ends up happening, Access Health will need to hire additional staff to help consumers pick the best plan for their health needs.

It’s unclear where the money for the additional staff will come from in its $34.6 million budget for the 2017 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Calkins said the Insurance Department will need to be clear about who can give advice when it comes to health insurance.

Calkins said they’ve asked the Insurance Department to determine whether the brokers could charge a fee to consumers looking to purchase insurance on the exchange. However, the Insurance Department said brokers cannot charge a fee for Medicare and cannot charge a fee to individuals buying health insurance which qualifies for subsidies on the exchange.

Calkins said these lower wage consumers will suffer and possibly choose the wrong plan because the broker community won’t be available to them.

“It really is discrimination against low-income people,” Calkins said during a recent phone interview.

He said it’s basically setting up individuals for “second class advice.”