June 14, 2017

Consumer advocacy group skipping today's insurance rate hearings

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, a consumer advocacy voice in the state, said Tuesday that it would not participate in the today's health insurance rate hearings at the Connecticut Insurance Department, in protest of the hearing process and timing.

"We believe the state's approach to the health insurance rate review process is unwelcoming of real public participation and too narrow in its scope, failing to truly grapple with the rising healthcare costs facing both consumers and payers," Frances G. Padilla, foundation president, said in a written statement. "The timing of the hearing is also unfortunate, given the attacks on the Affordable Care Act occurring right now."

Padilla added, "It is not acceptable to pass along double-digit premium increases to individuals with only a day of hearings that focus on technical actuarial analyses and do not allow a full dialogue with consumers."

Padilla called on state regulators and political leaders to step up for consumers, work together and be innovative addressing healthcare challenges, especially in light of healthcare debate in Congress.

Today's hearings were to consider health insurance rate requests for 2018 policies being sold in the individual market, both in and outside the health exchange, Access Health CT. Anthem seeks a 33.8 percent average increase, ranging from 19 percent to 52.1 percent, and ConnectiCare is asking for a 15.2 percent average increase, ranging from 8.4 percent to 18.7 percent, the foundation said.

The foundation is particularly concerned that today's hearings were scheduled too early and will be rendered moot by the challenges to the health insurance marketplace. The 2018 rate requests assume that the insurers will receive cost sharing reduction payments, which the Trump administration may end, it said.

Additionally, Access Health CT has given Anthem and ConnectiCare, the only insurers offering policies to individuals buying via the exchange, until Sept. 1 to decide if they are in or out of the 2018 individual market, the foundation said. Holding hearings later in the summer could provide more clarity about the specific challenges insurance companies will face, the foundation added.

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