WNPR

Connecticut Health Insurance Rates Look Set For Double-Digit Rise

May 9, 2017

The two health insurers who currently offer plans on the state's health care exchange say they intend to return in 2018, but both have requested hefty rate increases. The cost of health care generally looks set to rise in Connecticut, as the Department of Insurance gets to work to review insurers rate requests.

Anthem filed a request asking to be allowed to charge individual customers on the exchange, Access Health CT, 33.8 percent more than they do this year. Connecticare has requested a rate hike of 15.2 percent.

The Insurance Department will now review those requests, and can cut back the rate hikes if regulators feel they're too large.

For plans purchased off the exchange, the range of rate increases is similar for individual plans. Average small group rate requests range from 3.6 percent to 31.6 percent.

Both Anthem and Connecticare said in their filings they reserve the right to change their requests or withdraw altogether from the exchange, depending on the decisions the federal government may make about health care.

The U.S. House has passed a bill that could fundamentally change the operation of the state exchanges. That's now under consideration by the Senate.

In addition, the Trump administration has not yet indicated whether it will fund cost-sharing subsidies that reimburse insurers for the co-pays and deductibles incurred by low-income customers. Also at issue: whether the individual mandate to buy health insurance will be enforced next year.

The insurers must make a commitment to the exchange one way or the other by July 1.

Meanwhile, Insurance Commissioner Katie Wade said she will hold public hearings on the rate increase requests June 14.

In a statement, the commissioner said, "we are seeing claims experience that reflects increased medical and prescription drug costs along with higher utilization as well as uncertainty in the marketplace. I will continue to work across the Administration and with our Congressional delegation to advocate for market stability for 2018 and beyond to protect Connecticut consumers."

Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Murphy called on President Trump to help stabilize the insurance market by protecting cost-sharing subsidies. 

"It’s not hard to understand why insurance companies are asking for big rate increases when President Trump won’t commit to keeping the Affordable Care Act operating for more than one month at a time," said Murphy. "His refusal to make a commitment to continue to pay subsidies that make these exchanges work is clearly causing insurers to come in with rates that reflect that uncertainty."