Foundation Opts to “Skip” Rate Hike Hearings

Over the years, the Foundation has advocated for consumers in the state Insurance Department’s annual health insurance rate hearings.  This year we decided to skip the June 14 hearings in protest.  Read more about why we chose to take this action in our press release:

Advocates To Skip June 14 Health Insurance Rate Hearings

 Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, a lead consumer advocacy voice in the state, announced today that they will not participate in the June 14 rate hearings at the Connecticut Insurance Department, in protest of the hearing process and timing.  The decision represents a departure from the Foundation’s previous approach to the health insurance rate approval process. 

Foundation president, Frances G. Padilla sums up the decision in the following statement: 

“We believe the state’s approach to the health insurance rate review process is unwelcoming of real public participation and too narrow in its scope, failing to truly grapple with the rising health care costs facing both consumers and payers.  The timing of the hearing is also unfortunate, given the attacks on the Affordable Care Act occurring right now. 

It is not acceptable to pass along double digit premium increases to individuals with only a day of hearings that focus on technical actuarial analyses and do not allow a full dialogue with consumers.  We call on our state regulators and political leaders to step up action on behalf of consumers.  We must work together and be truly innovative in how we address our growing health care challenges, especially in light of changes coming from Washington, D.C.”     

The June 14 hearings are to consider health insurance rate requests for 2018 policies being sold in the individual market, both in and outside the health exchange, Access Health CT.  Anthem is asking for a 33.8% average increase (ranging from 19 to 52.1%), and ConnectiCare is asking for a 15.2% average increase (ranging from 8.4 to 18.7%). 

The Foundation is particularly concerned that the June 14 hearings are scheduled too early, and will be rendered moot by the challenges to the health insurance marketplace.  The 2018 rate requests assume that the insurers will receive cost sharing reduction payments, which the Trump administration may end.  In addition, Access Health CT has given Anthem and ConnectiCare, the only insurers willing to offer policies to individuals buying via the exchange, until September 1 to decide if they are in or out of the 2018 individual market.  By holding hearings later in the summer, there could be more clarity about the specific challenges the insurance companies will face.  

The Foundation has testified at the hearings in recent years.  It has asked for the state to adopt consumer affordability standards in response to the Insurance Department’s stance that it is by statute only required to evaluate requests to increase premium rates relative to their impact on insurance carrier solvency.  In February 2017, the Insurance Department submitted testimony in opposition to proposed legislation to adopt consumer affordability standards.  In addition, the Foundation has requested that rate hearings be held at times and locations more favorable to attendance by the general public.  Such requests have been declined by the Insurance Department. 

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