Courtesy of ConnectiCare

HARTFORD, CT — The Connecticut Insurance Department told the two insurance companies who submitted insurance rates for 2018 that they could submit a supplemental rate assuming the Obamacare subsidies would be eliminated.

ConnectiCare Benefits said it would submit a supplemental rate request assuming that the cost-sharing reduction payments are eliminated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Anthem Health Plans did not respond to requests for comment.

The supplemental rates would contemplate the absence of CSR payments for 2018 and be due to insurance regulators by Aug. 30.

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“The Department has not made a final determination on rates for 2018,” Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade said Wednesday. “This supplemental filing will give the Department maximum flexibility in making final determinations for health insurance rates on the exchange within the tight time limits and have rates set for open enrollment in November.”

In May, Anthem Health requested an average 33.8 percent increase for individual health insurance plans both on and off the exchange. ConnectiCare Benefits has asked for a 15.2 percent average rate. Those rates are currently under review by the Insurance Department.

Both companies cited the potential disappearance of the CSR payments as a potential deal breaker for them and both have contemplated leaving the exchange if they go away.

If the subsidies go away, Tu Nguyen said “Anthem likely will have no choice but to re-evaluate this filing which could include requests for additional rate increases, elimination of certain product offerings, or the exiting of certain individual ACA compliant markets altogether.”

The initial 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.

The Insurance Department has until the end of the month to set rates for insurance companies participating in Connecticut’s insurance exchange, which is also called Access Health CT.

This supplemental filing is for the CSR issue only. Carriers are not permitted to make changes to any other factors in their existing filings.

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President Donald Trump has signaled a desire to get rid of the cost-sharing reductions, which help insurance companies lower the cost of deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance for low-income individuals.

There are about 48,000 or roughly half of those participating in Connecticut’s exchange who benefit from the CSR payments, which are made to insurance companies.

The payments are made on a monthly basis. The last payment made was on Aug. 21.

It’s unclear whether the payments will continue to be made, since Congress has not funded them and the U.S. House of Representatives is challenging them in court.