July 20, 2018

Health insurers make smaller CT rate requests

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
CID Commissioner Katharine L. Wade

Individual and small-group health plans in Connecticut may see lower premium increases next year, following large, double-digit average hikes that took effect this year.

The Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) said on Friday that it has received its annual slew of rate requests for the coming calendar year. The filings, from 10 insurers, apply to plans that are sold both on and off of the state's Obamacare-created insurance exchange, Access Health CT.

"On average, the proposed increases are lower than last year, but rising medical costs continue to be the key drivers of health insurance premium rate increase requests," CID said. "Of concern, however, is the ongoing uncertainty in Washington that threatens to destabilize the health insurance markets, particularly for individuals. [CID] is pressing for clarity and guidance from the federal government so that we can finalize the rates for 2019."

In the small-group market, the rate requests that would affect the greatest number of people include:

  • Anthem has asked for a 9.9 percent increase for its on and off-exchange plans, which together cover 67,600 lives.
  • Connecticare has asked for a 12.4 percent average increase for the 39,092 people covered by its off-exchange plans.
  • Oxford Health Insurance has asked for an 11.5 percent average increase for off-exchange plans covering 22,159 lives.
  • Harvard Pilgrim's average rate request amounts to just 0.6 percent, for plans covering 17.344 people.
  • Aetna has asked for a 20.8 percent hike for plans covering 7.500 people.

In the individual market, Connecticare has asked for a 13 percent average increase for 63,693 covered lives in its Access Health plans and 14.7 percent for its off-exchange offerings. Meanwhile, Anthem products on the exchange would see an average premium increase of 9.1 percent, should CID approve the requests as is.

The requests do not apply to self-insured employer plans, which cover about half of Connecticut companies, according to the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

Last year, when acting on 2018 rates, CID lowered just over half of insurer's initial requests, which ranged as high as 33.8 percent, but still ultimately approved double-digit increases for the majority of individual and small-group plans. That followed average double-digit hikes in 2017, and smaller increases in 2016.

On Friday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman released a statement criticizing the Trump administration for its attacks on Obamacare over the past year and a half -- including gutting financial penalties related to the law's individual mandate requiring people to purchase insurance.

"Next year, over a hundred thousand Connecticut residents will pay more for insurance because the president and his Republican allies in Washington have relentlessly and pointlessly attacked the Affordable Care Act, causing uncertainty in the healthcare exchange marketplace and increasing insurance premiums," Malloy said.

"Despite these actions, Connecticut will continue to work to drive down health care costs and make coverage more affordable," Wyman said. "I'm proud of the progress we have made at Access Health CT in recent years and will not stop advocating for stability, lower costs and high quality health care for the people of Connecticut."

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