‘My jaw hit the floor’: CT residents will have a chance to testify on insurance hikes

People will have the opportunity to consider the request of the insurance companies to increase the cost of private health plans next year by about 20.4%.

The Department of Insurance of the government has arranged for people to listen on Aug. 15 from 9 am. The hearing, which is usually held at government offices in the city of Hartford, will be held at the Legislative Office Building on Capitol Avenue in Hartford. The event was moved to accommodate what is expected to be a bigger than usual event.

The trial will have a hybrid format, with some people testifying in person while others testify. Insurance company representatives will have time to explain their expensive requests, and insurance department officials will ask questions.

Anyone interested in testifying can register by sending an email to cid.RateFilings@ct.gov with their name and transcript by noon on August 12.

Those who wish to testify in person can register at the Parliament House on the day of the hearing, starting at 8:30 in the morning.

In addition to the big increase in individual plans, insurers who sell policies and opt out of Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange are seeking an average increase of 14.8% for small groups.

The requested increase is more than what was requested last year in the 2022 health law. Carriers in 2021 requested an average increase of 8.6% for individual plans and 12.9% for small group plans.

The proposal has drawn criticism from health advocates, who fear more people will drop out of care because they can’t afford it.

“It’s getting difficult,” Lynne Ide, program director of communications and engagement at the Universal Health Care Foundation in Connecticut, said last month. “When we look at the bids for these prices, the shares are off the charts.

“Our biggest concern right now is that, combined with inflation and the fallout from COVID, this is adding to the problem. Our concern is that people will look at this and choose not to get health care because they can’t afford it.”

“My jaw hit the floor, obviously,” added Ted Doolittle, the state’s health representative. “I am very worried that people will not be able to get help because of this high cost. It is the responsibility of the insurance companies and providers to explain to the public why this is inevitable and there is no alternative.”

Attorney General William Tong asked for a special meeting that would allow officials to gather evidence and seriously question insurers about their proposed additions. Authorities could question witnesses and give their testimony in public.

So far, the insurance department has not accepted the request, instead opting for the hearing process it has been pursuing in recent years.

Three insurers are selling policies on the exchange: Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc., and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.

Anthem requested an average increase of 8.6% in individual orders affecting 27,698 people. The proposed changes range from a decrease of 1.8% to an increase of 16.1%, depending on the order.

The company also sought an average increase of 3.6% on the recommendation of a small group of 19,271. The proposed changes range from a decrease of 1.2% to 26.3%.

CTCare Benefits requested an average increase of 24.1% for private plans covering 75,003 people. The proposed changes range from 18.7% to 33.2%, depending on the policy.

It also sought an average increase of 22.9% for small group plans covering 3,476 people (an increase from 20% to 28.9%).

Insurance company ConnectiCare, which only sells individual policies on the exchange, requested an average increase of 25.2% for plans covering 8,782 people. Expected rates range from 17.1% to 32.2%.

The insurance department will make this decision as to how much – if any – to add to the various health plans.

Open enrollment for the 2023 health policy begins on Nov. 1.