ConnectiCare’s decision is a win for consumers – or is it? 

By Lynne Ide 

loselosediceIn case you missed it in this past week’s news, ConnectiCare was peeved that the state’s Insurance Department decided to approve an average premium increase of only 17.4% for individual health plans in 2017.  ConnectiCare wanted an average increase of 27.1%.

ConnectiCare responded on two fronts:

What followed was a high profile game of chicken between the insurer and the state.

Somewhere in the middle of all that drama, the 47,597 people who purchased ConnectiCare health plans via AHCT – and the thousands of people who were HealthyCT or United Healthcare customers via AHCT – were at risk.

Why? If ConnectiCare pulled out of the health insurance exchange, national insurance behemoth Anthem would be the sole company selling health plans on AHCT in 2017.  (Anthem has 56,700 customers via AHCT right now.)  That’s because United Healthcare decided to pull out of the all the state exchanges earlier this year – and HealthyCT, a CT-based nonprofit co-op, was forced out of business.

In the end, the state Insurance Department stood its ground on the rates and our state health insurance exchange, AHCT, kept the window open for ConnectiCare to back off its threat.  So after a lot of back and forth, ConnectiCare will remain on the exchange for 2017.

See “ConnectiCare will stay on CT health exchange in 2017” (CT Mirror) and ConnectiCare Agrees To Stay In Exchange, Withdraws Lawsuit & Appeal” (CT News Junkie)

Connecticut will have two insurers offering health plans in AHCT in 2017, rather than four.  Some choice is better than no choice.

But in the end, how good are unaffordable choices for people who must purchase their health plans via AHCT?  ConnectiCare is getting an average rate increase of 17.4% for individual plans — and Anthem’s average rate request of 26.8% has been reduced, though not by much, to an average increase of 22.4%.

This is at a time when everyday people are bearing more and more of the cost of their care through rising deductibles, increasing premiums, and higher co-pays or prescription drug costs.

Something in the health insurance marketplace has got to give.  Right now, for too many middle class people, it feels like health care is getting more and more broken.

For now, our state has won a small battle.  For consumers, the war for better care and better prices is still on.

 

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