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July 24, 2020

Some COVID-19 impacts, as CT health insurers seek 11.3% rate hike on small business plans

Connecticut health insurers want to raise the cost of health insurance for small businesses next year by an average of 11.3%, which is slightly lower than their last round of requests, the Connecticut Insurance Department said Friday.

Insurers a year ago requested a 12% rate increase for 2020 on their so-called small group policies (companies with 50 or fewer employees), which CID ultimately reduced to 9.2%.

While the average request is 11.3%, the requests range from a decrease of 2.4% to an increase of 15%, depending on the carrier and market.

Meanwhile, CID on Friday said that rate requests for the individual health insurance market, which includes plans sold both on the Access Health CT exchange and off of it, averaged 6.3% for 2021, down from last year’s requested increase of 7.8%, which CID ultimately reduced to 3.7%. 

The range of individual rate requests is a decrease of 7.5% to an increase of 18.9%, CID said.

In all, 10 health insurers submitted the rate filings, for fully insured plans covering approximately 214,600 people. They do not impact large group companies, nor those who self-insure their health benefit plans.

Some brokers had been hoping that a sharp decrease in utilization of healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic would translate to lower rates next year.

CID said that insurers are citing rising costs of prescription drugs and an increased demand for medical services, and that most did not include an rate impact related to COVID-19 due to "significant uncertainty." Only Anthem and ConnectiCare did so, building in COVID-19 rate impacts of 2.3% and 1.7%, respectively. 

"[CID] will examine these filings with a fine-tooth comb to make sure these requested rates are consistent with state law," Commissioner Andrew N. Mais said in a statement. "Working within the authority granted to this department, we will do everything we can to protect Connecticut healthcare consumers during the difficult COVID crisis.”

CID reviews the requests to ensure they are actuarily sound. Affordability is not considered, though the filings often draw public comments decrying the high cost of carrying insurance. 

That 30-day public comment period has now begun, and CID has scheduled an administrative hearing on the filings related to on-exchange plans for Sept. 2. The agency typically make its final rulings that month.

A chart of 2021 rate requests can be viewed here.

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