(Updated 7:12 p.m.) A New Britain judge today refused to overturn the Insurance Department’s decision to only allow ConnectiCare to increase its health insurance rates by an average of 17.4 percent for its nearly 50,000 customers on the state exchange.
Last week, ConnectiCare asked the court to issue a temporary injunction against the Insurance Department for ignoring its revised 27.1 percent rate request submitted on Aug. 23.
ConnectiCare argued that it needed the temporary injunction because it must decide by today whether it will continue to participate in Connecticut’s insurance exchange, also known as Access Health CT. An official with Access Health CT said the deadline for ConnectiCare to make a decision is Monday, Sept. 12, because last Monday was Labor Day.
New Britain Superior Court Judge Sheila Huddleston issued her decision Friday after hearing from ConnectiCare President Michael Wise and Paul Lombardo, an actuary with the Insurance Department.
In her decision, Huddleston wrote that she’s found no case law involving a temporary injunction that vacated an administrative agency’s decision and mandated the agency to consider additional evidence. In this case, the evidence, or the need to increase the rate to 27.1 percent, was presented and rejected by the Insurance Commissioner, according to Huddleston’s decision.
ConnectiCare argued that the Insurance Department should have considered the revised request submitted Aug. 23 because so much about the market had changed in such a short period of time. The company also argued that if it didn’t receive a higher rate, it could jeopardize its fiscal solvency.
ConnectiCare’s complaint to the court said that the claims it paid during the first six months of 2016 were higher than expected and showed little evidence of decreasing.
The company also said that because HealthyCT and UnitedHealthcare will no longer be participating in the exchange, it expects claims to be driven even higher because the departures of the two companies will increase the risk in its pool.
“As we have been discussing intensively with our regulators at the Connecticut Insurance Department for many months, the cost of the health care being accessed by our members greatly exceeds the premiums we have collected,” ConnectiCare President and CEO Michael Wise said earlier this week in a statement. “As this became apparent, we shared this information with the Connecticut Insurance Department and asked to update our rate filing, making it clear that we want to continue to provide coverage in the individual market but that we do not have the resources to continue to sustain the level of losses we have experienced this year.”
But Judge Huddleston decided that if it were to vacate the commissioner’s decision and order the Insurance Department to consider evidence that it had previously rejected as untimely, it would upset the status quo.
“We are reviewing the judge’s decision,” an Insurance Department spokeswoman said Friday.
In a statement Friday, Wise said they are filing an expedited administrative appeal with the Insurance Department.
“We are asking that the Department consider all information relevant to ensure actuarially sound and stable rates to prevent disruption for the 50,000 exchange members who depend on ConnectiCare for access to high quality healthcare,” Wise said. “ConnectiCare wants to remain a part of the Connecticut exchange and will continue to work actively to make that possible.”