Andrew Mais
Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais, at center, during an Aug. 21, 2023 hearing on proposed rate increases. Credit: Christine Stuart / CTNewsJunkie

After numerous hearings and complaints, the Insurance Department knocked down the average rate for individual insurance plans sold in the state from a 12.4% increase to a 9.4% increase. It also cut in half the requested average rate increase for small group plans from 14.8% to 7.4%. 

The plans impact 188,000 people in the state. 

“Our focus is squarely on the consumers. Our dedicated team of actuaries and other professionals has appropriately reduced the requested health insurance rates increases,” Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said Friday. “However, the ongoing challenge is in addressing the underlying issues that cause these premiums to rise. Our goal is crystal clear: access by Connecticut consumers to a robust and competitive health insurance market while effectively managing insurance costs.”

The Insurance Department weighs rate increase requests to ensure they are not excessive, inadequate, or discriminatory. Last year, the agency approved rate increases of an average of 12.9% — a double digit hike, which fell well below the average 20.4% increases requested by insurance carriers. 

Attorney General William Tong, who criticized the rate requests, said the rates requested were “based on vague, unsupported assumptions contradicting nationally-supported data.” 

He said while the Insurance Department was right to cut the demands, the rate hikes remain far too high and deeply unaffordable. 

“Insurers right now have little to no incentive to hold down healthcare costs or premiums, and Connecticut families and small businesses are getting crushed. We need to change this. Connecticut’s review process is far too condensed, and far too opaque to produce any kind of meaningful challenge to the insurance industry’s unjustified and unsupported assumptions,” Tong said. 

Last month, lawmakers vowed to change the rate setting process. Senate President Martin Looney and Sen. Jorge Cabrera said they want future rate hearings to be held under strict Uniform Administrative Procedures Act rules – as Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) hearings on proposed rates mandate – and that the Insurance Department take affordability into consideration, and that there be a ‘presumption of denial’ for any proposed health insurance rate increase that exceeds inflation.

“The current method of negotiation reflects a betrayal of policy holders,” Looney and Cabrera said. “The public would be well served by a requirement that these rate hearings be compliant with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) thus allowing cross examination of the parties (the hearing should include providers as well as insurers).”

Cabrera added: “The entire public hearing on these rate hikes was riddled from the start with non-answers and misdirection by insurance company representatives. I was then, and I continue to be, enormously frustrated by the entire process.” 

Republicans also expressed frustration.

“The Lamont administration’s approval of these significant rate hikes comes on the heels of last year’s outrageous double-digit rate hikes.  It’s tone deaf to thousands of Connecticut ratepayers whose family budgets have been crushed by inflation,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and Sen. Tony Hwang said. “Equally as frustrating is the fact that Connecticut Senate Republicans have offered solutions to prevent these unaffordable rate hikes from becoming today’s reality. We have offered solutions that Democrats repeatedly rejected.”

Depending on what plan a person has the rates could vary. The increases for individuals plans range from 9.8% to 17.5% and small group plans range from 7.5% to 23%. The Insurance Department’s job is to make sure the insurance companies collect enough monthly premiums to keep them solvent. To get more information on specific plans and the final rate increases please visit the Insurance Department’s website for more information.