Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais speaks during a meeting.
Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais speaks during a meeting. Credit: Christine Stuart / CTNewsJunkie

Despite calls for a formal public hearing on the recent health insurance rate increases requested by Connecticut insurance companies, the state Insurance Department has decided against that, but instead agreed to move the hearing to a bigger public venue.

The hearing will be held at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Monday, Aug. 15. The public will be able to participate both virtually and in person.

It will be an informational hearing, which means insurance regulators will be able to take public input and ask questions of representatives from the insurance companies that are seeking to increase their rates by an average of 20.4% for plans starting in 2023.

The public hearing will focus on plans offered both on and off the exchange from CIGNA Health & Life, CTCare Inc., CTCare Benefits Inc., and the ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.

Members of the public may submit written testimony regarding the proposals from Aetna, Anthem Health Plans, and United Healthcare/Oxford. 

Attorney General William Tong requested a formal hearing to allow the state to cross-examine the insurance companies about the basis of their requested rate increases. 

“We need to test what [insurers] are saying and understand what’s behind the numbers and put people under oath and ask them questions and really get to the bottom of this,” Tong said. “Yes, I want to litigate this question because the people of this state deserve nothing less than that.”

Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais has said the agency conducts annual hearings on rate requests and this year’s are expected to occur in early August.

“That hearing process will happen again this year, and the public is welcome to testify. The Department is fully committed to consumer protection and transparency which is why our hearings are all open to the public and broadcast over the public affairs CT-N Network,” Mais said.

But the average 20.4% rate hike for 13 plans offered on and off the exchange is much higher than previous requests. The timing couldn’t be worse for consumers with inflation at a 40-year high.

In comparison, the average rate request for 2022 was 8.6%.

Connecticut’s insurers have attributed the requested rate increases to factors including the rising costs of medical care and pharmaceuticals. In a statement, Kim Kann, a spokesperson for ConnectiCare, said the increases were also impacted by members who have begun utilizing services after delaying care during the COVID-19 pandemic and the expiration of enhanced tax credits funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We remain extremely mindful of the impact that rate increases have on our members and strive to keep our plans as fairly priced as possible within the reality of today’s health care environment,” Kann said.