By Rosana Garcia
Connecticut health insurers have submitted their rates for 2017 and it looks like consumers will see major jumps in their premiums, if the insurance companies have anything to say about it.
Anthem has asked for an average 26.8 percent increase in premiums for their plans sold on the state exchange, Access Health CT. Aetna doesn’t sell policies on Access Health, but are asking for an average 27.9 percent increase in premiums for their individual plans sold off the exchange.
With Anthem proposing to acquire Cigna, and Aetna proposing to acquire Humana, are these types of increases going to become the norm if the mergers go through?
Cigna is asking for an average increase of 6.6 percent in rates for their off exchange individual plans. If the Anthem-Cigna merger is approved, does that mean that Cigna customers can expect to see Anthem level premium increases, too?
These are questions that we all must keep in mind during this rate review season and in the context of the insurance mergers. Insurers can claim that their mergers will increase efficiency and save consumers money, but based on these proposed rate increases for next year, we would do well to be wary.
The Connecticut Insurance Department will have to approve the rates that insurers have submitted, which may lead to lower premium increases. Rate review, though, is no guarantee that we won’t see increases.
Unfortunately, “affordability” is not one of the factors the Insurance Department has to consider when approving rates. State law would have to be changed in order for consumer affordability to be considered in rate review.
Public hearings for rate review are currently set for 9 a.m. August 2 (for Anthem rate review) and August 3 (for ConnectiCare & Cigna rate review) at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 153 Market Street, Hartford. This is neither a convenient time or location for the general public – most people are working, or may have difficulty getting to Hartford for these hearings.
At best, rate review in Connecticut puts on a “good show” but remains unresponsive to calls for a truly public and open process, where anyone can participate, and affordability to the consumers is part of gauging rate increases.
This isn’t the last you’ve heard on this issue from us. See below for how to submit a comment to the Connecticut Insurance Department regarding this year’s rate review.
More information from the CT Insurance Department: