ctnewsjunkie file photo
ConnectiCare’s Manchester office (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — Ten health insurance companies, including two offering health insurance plans both on and off the exchange, proposed an average 6.3% increase in rates for 2021. That’s slightly lower than the 7.8% average proposed last year.

Those rates are for the individual market.

The two insurance companies offering plans both on and off the Access Health exchange proposed 9.9% and 5.5% increases.

Anthem Health Plans, Inc., which currently covers about 22,000 people, says most of its 9.9% increase is due to medical cost inflation and the demand for those medical services.

The impact of COVID-19 on Anthem’s rates is about $17.54 per member, per month or about 2.3% of the monthly premiums.

ConnectiCare Benefits, which covers about 75,100 people, says most of its average 5.5% rate request is due to rising medical costs and a demand for services. The COVID-19 impact on premiums in 2021 accounts for an increase of 1.6% of premium.

The carriers are attributing the increases to rising health care costs, including the cost of prescription drugs and an increased demand for medical services.

In its filing with the Insurance Department, ConnectiCare Actuarial Director Sarah Mu said there hasn’t been a penalty if a person doesn’t purchase health insurance since 2018.

“The elimination of the penalty does not technically remove the requirement to obtain healthcare coverage. But without penalties in place there will be no enforcement and, in effect, no practical mandate to obtain coverage for 2019 and later years. Without such a mandate, individuals – typically younger and healthier – do not participate in the insurance pool to the extent they would if the mandate were in force,” Mu wrote.

She said the lack of participation in the insurance pool has become a greater concern due to COVID-19. There’s a concern that people won’t be able to purchase health insurance if they are unemployed.

The pandemic has also impacted elective medical procedures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a material impact on our claim experience in the first half of 2020,” Mu said. “It is expected that COVID-19 will continue to impact claim experience through the rest of this year and 2021, perhaps beyond.”

Tu Nguyen, actuary for Anthem Health Plans, said that preliminary data shows COVID‐19 testing and treatment costs for the months of March, April, and May are $41.78 per member, per month and 5.7% of 2020 premium amount.

At least three carriers, Aetna, Harvard Pilgrim and UnitedHealthcare/Oxford have not included any impact for COVID-19 in their 2021 rates due to the uncertainty around them.

The proposed average small group rate requested was an average 11.3 % increase, which is lower than the 12% proposed last year.

These are not final rates.

The Insurance Department will conduct an actuarial review to determine whether the rates are justified. There will be a 30-day comment period that begins on July 24. A public hearing on the rates will be held at 9 a.m. on Sept. 2.