HARTFORD, CT — The public will have a chance later this week to weigh on the double-digit rate increases proposed by two health insurance companies participating on Connecticut’s health insurance exchange.
As part of their rate request the Insurance Department will hold a public hearing on June 14 at its offices in Hartford.
Last month, Anthem Health requested an average 33.8 percent increase for individual health insurance plans both on and off the exchange. That means about 35,000 customers have rate increases from between 19 percent to 52 percent.
The increase, according to Anthem, is due to a 13.4 percent increase in the cost of medical care and the increased demand for medical services.
The company says it will continue meet the essential health benefits criteria mandated under the Affordable Care Act. But its actuaries warned that if the cost sharing they currently receive from the federal government disappears then there are no guarantees.
ConnectiCare Benefits has asked for a 15.2 percent average rate hike for its 51,000 individual market customers on the exchange. The rate increases range from 8.4 percent to 18.7 percent.
ConnectiCare said medical costs are increasing at a rate of 8.53 percent, which is part of the reason for the increased rate request.
Collectively, the companies have approximately 86,000 policies in force in Connecticut’s individual market.
Both companies said their participation is contingent upon subsidies from the federal government continuing.
In its rate filing submitted to the Insurance Department, Anthem said the cost of the benefits being used by individuals “has continued to outpace premium increases.”
The rates also reflect what Anthem believes will be a reduction in participation in the individual market and only the sicker customers who need insurance will remain.
Eric Galvin, president and chief operating officer of ConnectiCare Inc., told James Wadleigh, CEO of Access Health CT, that they want to protect their legal rights under state and federal law with respect to participating in the exchange.
“Our intent is entirely a consequence of the current political and policy discussions that post a threat of material financial risk to ConnectiCare or its affiliates, in a May 1 letter acquired by CTNewsJunkie.
Insurance companies have until Sept. 1 to withdraw from the exchange. The deadline was extended to accommodate the ongoing debate in Congress about how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The June 14 hearings are part of the Department Commissioner Katharine Wade’s statutory review of health insurance rates in the fully insured market.
The hearing for Anthem will begin at 9 a.m. The hearing for CBI will begin no earlier than 1 p.m.
The hearings will be held at the Department’s 7th floor hearing room on 153 Market Street, a public building that also houses the federal Social Security Office, Capital Community College, and the Hartford Board of Education.
Parking tickets will be validated for those parking in the Morgan Street Garage to provide the public with free parking. The Department’s building is also on CT Transit bus lines.
There are several ways to comment besides the hearings, including online comment – The public can continue to provide online comment for each rate filing, which has been open since May 8 and the record will remain open through the close of business on July 1st.
The online comment section can be accessed by clicking on the individual rate filing.
Additionally, written comment may be filed with the Insurance Department through the close of business on July 1st by mailing or delivering the statements to the Connecticut Insurance Department, P.O. Box 816, Hartford, CT 06142. All of the written comments will be posted on the Department website.