Health insurers are asking for an average 20.4% rate increase for 2023.

Department of Insurance chart of rate hike requests for health insurance plans offered on the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange. credit: Screengrab / Connecticut Department of Insurance

Nine insurance companies have asked the state Department of Insurance to approve double-digit rate increases for individual and small business health insurance plans starting in 2023.

The proposed average individual rate request is an increase of 20.4% compared to 8.6% in 2022.

The department “has received 13 rate applications from nine health insurers for plans that will be marketed to individuals and small groups, both on and off the state-sponsored Access Health CT exchange,” said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mace. “Working within the authority given to this department, we will carefully examine these documents to ensure that the rates requested are consistent with state law.”

ConnectiCare Benefits offers an average increase of 24.1% for its individual plans offered on the exchange.

Insurance Department Chart of Rate Increase Requests for Connecticut Non-Exchange Health Insurance Plans.
Insurance Department Chart of Rate Increase Requests for Connecticut Non-Exchange Health Insurance Plans. credit: Screengrab / Connecticut Department of Insurance

The company claims this is because demand for its services has increased. This factor is expected to have a projected impact of 12.1% on the insurer’s claims costs, according to their filing. They also point out that subsidies offered under the American Rescue Plan Act, introduced in 2021, are expected to disappear in 2023. They say they expect fewer customers to qualify for the enhanced premium tax credit and expect consumers to leave the individual market.

As a result of customer departures, the insurer expects the average risk pool morbidity to rise and adversely impact 2023 levels.

More than 75,000 individuals are already covered under this plan. The company is also asking for a 23.6% increase for its individual plans sold over the counter. The company is also asking for a 22.9 percent increase for its small business plans on the exchange and a 24.5 percent increase for small group plans sold outside of Access Health CT.

Anthem Health Benefits, the other insurer that offers plans on the Connecticut exchange, is asking for an average 8.6 percent increase for its individual plans on the exchange.

The company says about 9.2% of that increase can be attributed to medical cost inflation, changes in provider contracting and increased demand for these medical services. The plan currently covers about 27,698 individuals.

Anthem requires an average increase of 3.6% for small group health plans for employers with 50 or fewer workers.

Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company filed a request to increase interest rates by an average of 19.64% for small group policies. Oxford Health Insurance requested a 13.4 percent increase for health plans used by 50 or fewer workers and a 15.7 percent increase for HMO plans used by 50 or fewer workers.

Insurer UnitedHealthCare requested an average rate increase of 13.9 percent for small group plans. And Aetna Life Insurance Co. filed for a 14.1 percent increase for small group benefit plans that provide essential medical and prescription drug coverage to employers with 50 or fewer workers.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and HPHC have decided to exit the Connecticut market and will no longer offer new small business group health plans. They will only renew existing plans until the end of their respective plan years.

Sen. Matt Lesser, co-chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said the proposals were “staggering.” He said they would have a serious impact on small businesses and individuals and wanted to make sure the attorney general and health advocate were involved in the rate review process.

Attorney General William Tong wants a public hearing on the interest rate proposals because they exceed 10%.

“Healthcare costs and insurance premiums are already prohibitive for many families, businesses and individuals in Connecticut, and these double-digit rate hikes require strict scrutiny,” Tong said. β€œThe Department of Insurance previously agreed to hold public hearings on any rate increase above 10 percent, and that transparency is certainly needed now. We cannot simply allow insurers to submit costs and claims without our own independent analysis and review.”

Lesser agreed.

“They owe the public an explanation and they need to give one if they’re going to get any rate increase,” Lesser said.

As for solutions, the Connecticut General Assembly has offered few, if any, answers this session on how to solve the problem of rising health care costs.

“The system is fundamentally broken,” Lesser said. “The rate increases they are proposing today are proof positive that the market is not working.”

He added: “This outrageous proposal is proof that they need to be saved from themselves.”

The insurance department will review the proposals and make a final decision β€” likely in September β€” on the rates, which will take effect Jan. 1. There is a 30-day public comment period starting today.

Click here for rate proposals and to comment on them.

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