By Lynne Ide
The Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) held a rate hearing last week to review proposed health insurance premium increases by Anthem, ConnectiCare and Golden Rule.
The process was purely bureaucratic — held in a windowless, gray room populated by actuaries, industry executives, lobbyists and attorneys. Only one spouse of one policyholder showed up, and she was on Medicare. The hearing was entirely devoid of the real human impact that rising health insurance premiums can have on a family struggling to provide health care for loved ones.
That is by design — and in keeping with state law.
The fact is that CID can’t even consider affordability when it reviews health insurers’ annual rate requests.
You might say, “What? That can’t be true!”
It is — unless Connecticut changes the law to require affordability as a consideration.
It’s bad enough that the formal hearing was held on a midsummer weekday in downtown Hartford at a time when most policyholders are working or on vacation. The average person could weigh in about the proposed rate increase via the CID website, and many did. This year’s policyholder comments almost exclusively focused on affordability.
Here are just two online comments:
Anthem policyholder: “A rate increase of 6.7 percent is well in excess of the rate of inflation, well ahead of wage growth, and is not accompanied by an improvement in services for customers.”
ConnectiCare policyholder: “As an HSA-type policyholder, we bear the cost of healthcare cost increases first. Base premium increases such as those proposed do not translate to the customer in truly greater coverage… Finally, this proposed rate increase is much larger than the inflation rate. Nowhere are there cost of living increases of this magnitude.”
The CID hearing process needs to be fixed to encourage true, robust public input.
Last week, I called on Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade to meet with stakeholders to design a more inclusive and meaningful process.
But a good hearing process is not enough. It’s about time Connecticut allowed affordability to be factored into the consideration of rate requests.