Speak Up Against Next Year’s Health Insurance Rates!

By Rosana Garcia

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Time for speaking up on proposed rate increases is running out.  We talked about this year’s rate review period here.

Connecticut’s health insurers have all submitted requests to raise rates in 2017.  This is the time of year that individual and small-employer health plan rates are reviewed, which includes those health plans sold on the state exchange, Access Health CT.  The Insurance Department must decide if the rate increases are okay, or if they should be adjusted.

The state Insurance Department has determined that it will hold public hearings in August on proposed 2017 individual and small group rates for Anthem, ConnectiCare and Aetna health care policies.  All health insurers’ rate requests will be reviewed but only three will have public hearings.

What’s rate review?

Here’s a one-minute video on rate review:

So what do proposed rate hikes look like for 2017?

This chart shows the average rate hike requests for each insurer.  Please note to disregard Healthy CT rate hike requests, as they will no longer be offering plans for the 2017 plan year.  All insurers have asked for a rate hike, with some requesting double-digit increases.  You can read more about this in the CT Mirror: Major health insurers seek sharply higher rates in Connecticut (by Mark Pazniokas, June 6, 2016)

Less choice on exchanges this year

Due to the loss of Healthy CT (read more about that here), choices on the individual (Access Health CT) and small employer exchanges (known as SHOP) are sharply limited.  For individuals shopping on Access Health CT, only Anthem and ConnectiCare will be offering plans.  On the SHOP exchange, only Anthem has plans available.  This means high stakes for customers of these exchanges.

Affordability is not a factor in rate review

As we pointed out last summer (in this blog), affordability is not a factor that the Connecticut Insurance Department currently considers during rate review.  It’s important for the public to talk about affordability anyway.  Regulators won’t understand the impact of rising health care rates if they don’t hear about it.

Do higher premiums mean better coverage?

As health insurance premiums rise, what are consumers getting out of the deal?  With rates rising, how good are these health plans?  Are there enough primary care doctors taking new patients?  Are there enough specialists within a reasonable distance in the plan’s network?  Are critical medications covered with reasonable costs?  Are claims paid quickly, or are they denied more often than not?  Are members getting quality customer service?

These are important aspects of a health plan, and regulators need to hear how these health plans work in “the real world,” from real customers.

How can I get my voice heard?

You can testify at the hearing(s) or submit your comments online (Here’s how: Rate Review Public Comment & Hearing Information).

The three public hearings will be:

Anthem Health Plans – August 3 at 9 a.m.
ConnectiCare Health Insurance Company – August 4 at 9 a.m.
Aetna Insurance Company -August 4 at 1 p.m.

All hearings will be held at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 7th Floor, 153 Market Street in Hartford.
*There is validated parking for visitors using the Morgan Street Garage.

Even if there is no public hearing for your plan, you can still submit public comment.

For all the information you need to know, see Health Insurance Rate Request for 2017 (at the Connecticut Insurance Department website).

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