Ctnewsjunkie file photo
Access Health’s former storefront in New Britain where residents used to go to enroll. The store no longer exists (Ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — One carrier would have to hike its silver plan rates by 52.2 percent and the other would have to hike them by 43.3 percent for one plan and 43.9 percent for another.

That’s if Republican President Donald Trump eliminates the Obamacare subsidies.

In supplemental rate filings, ConnectiCare Benefits said it would have to hike its silver plan rate 52.2 percent. Anthem Health Plans, which offers two silver plans, would have to hike one 43.3 percent and the other 43.9 percent.

The uncertainty about what’s going to happen with the cost-sharing reductions prompted Connecticut insurance regulators to ask ConnectiCare Benefits and Anthem Health Plans to resubmit their rates assuming the subsidies would disappear.

There are around 48,000 Connecticut consumers who benefit from the cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which are paid to insurance carriers to help lower the cost of deductibles, co-insurance, and co-payments for low-income individuals who purchase silver plans.

ConnectiCare Benefits said in their filing that if they had to spread the cost of the unfunded subsidy across all silver plans offered on the exchange then they would have to increase the premiums substantially.

They assumed that certain members will opt for Bronze plans or even Gold plans, while others will find more attractive options off the exchange. However, if the number of people in the silver pool is reduced then there will be fewer people to share the cost.

The initial rate requests submitted to the Insurance Department in May assumed the federal funding of the cost sharing subsidies would continue through 2018.

However, they warned that if the regulatory framework changed then they reserved their right to leave the market or change their rates.

But with a new enrollment period fast approaching regulators don’t have much time.

The Insurance Department has until Sept. 30 to finalize the rates for 2018 and the carriers have until Sept. 15 to decide whether they want to participate in the exchange. The previous deadline had been Sept. 1.

The Insurance Department said earlier this week that it would make a decision on the rate requests before Sept. 15. Depending on what happens, Connecticut could have two, one, or no carriers participating in the exchange.

Enrollment for exchange plans begins on Nov. 1, 2017.

Both insurance carriers said they’re uncertain about continuing to offer plans on the exchange due to the uncertainty from Washington D.C.

In its May filing with the department, Neil S. Kelsey, vice president of actuarial services for ConnectiCare Benefits,  said given the uncertainty of the current regulatory environment it “reserves the right to withdraw its products from the individual market or request a change to all, or any portion, of these rate filings, if it determines, in its sole discretion that a change in the current regulatory environment is likely to pose an actual or potential material adverse risk to CBI’s business.”

Earlier this week, Access Health CT, Connecticut’s insurance exchange joined 11 state-based exchanges and wrote federal lawmakers to ask them to stabilize the marketplace.

In a letter to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, exchange officials asked Congress to assure continued funding of the cost-sharing reduction payments, establish a federal reinsurance program, maintain flexibility over the use of 1332 waivers, and promote stability.

Access Health CT CEO James Wadleigh said the “continued confusion” over the future of the Affordable Care Act in the wake of Congressional failure to repeal the law prompted the letter.

“Without a continued commitment to provide CSR payments and a permanent, comprehensive, federally funded reinsurance program, insurance rates will continue to rise and state budgets will continue to be stretched thin,” Wadleigh said. “It is exactly this kind of predictability that is needed to promote competition and help stimulate affordability.”