On and off exchange insurance rates going up for 2017

By Rosana Garcia

novekedesFriday afternoon before the Labor Day weekend, the Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) released its decisions on 2017 health insurance rate requests for individual and small group plans, on and off the exchange (Access Health CT).  Some Anthem & ConnectiCare rates needed to be recalculated, but now that the dust has settled, CID updated it’s 2017 rate request and decisions chart.

CID’s decisions around ConnectiCare rates prompted ConnectiCare to sue the state, threaten to leave the exchange, and then finally resolved when ConnectiCare agreed to stay on the state exchange (Access Health CT) with the rates CID approved, and withdrawing the lawsuit.  We wrote about the hubbub yesterday.

But despite the drama and controversy, what do the 2017 rates mean for consumers?

It’s important to remember that the rates approved by the Connecticut Insurance Department are for individual and small group plans, both off and on the state exchange.

On the state health insurance exchange for individuals, there are two insurers offering plans—Anthem and ConnectiCare.  Anthem’s final approved average rate increase was 22.4%.  ConnectiCare’s final approved average rate increase is 17.4%.  While both of these rate increases are less than what insurers asked for, it is still a significant increase.

If you had a plan that cost, before subsidies/tax credits, $400, that would be an average increase of $90 per month for Anthem plans, and average increase of $70 per month for ConnectiCare plans.  Now, many people qualify for subsidies on the exchange, so for some, your monthly bill shouldn’t increase this much.

But if your income is higher than 400% of the federal poverty level (that is an annual income of $47, 520 for an individual, or $97,200 for a family of four), you are not eligible for subsidies and pay full price for insurance.

If you aren’t eligible for subsidies, you can purchase insurance off the exchange, as there is a separate set of individual plans sold off the exchange.  There are currently four companies (Aetna, Cigna, ConnectiCare and Golden Rule) who sell plans off the exchange—and it’s worth a look to see if they offer lower-cost plans for you and your family.

Off the exchange, average increases are also pretty high.  Aetna has an average rate increase of 27.9%, and ConnectiCare has two plans, one with an average increase of 48.1%, and another of 38%.  Cigna plans have an average increase of 6.6%, and Golden Rule’s average increase is 2% (even though they originally requested an average 32% increase).

What’s obvious is that health insurance rates need to take affordability into consideration.  Connecticut consumers’ wallets can’t keep up.  We need to fight for better care, at better prices, for better health.

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