health insurance

Health Insurance Rate Requests Described As ‘Excessive' By Some

NBC Universal, Inc.

Some members of the public told insurance regulators Tuesday that there’s no reason to increase health insurance rates in 2022. Health insurers defended the rate requests. 

“I am paying $43,200 for a family of four with $5,000 deductibles,” Diane Keefe of Norwalk told insurance regulators Tuesday. 

“This is unsustainable. Families are suffering and there should be no increase,” she said.

Keefe was just one of a handful of people asking insurance regulators to deny the average rate increases of 9% to 13% for health insurance companies. 

“I’ve been a small group policyholder for Anthem for nine years. Anthem is now back again asking you to raise my premiums another 12%,” Dan Pflug of Easton said. 

“$33,000 is too much for health insurance for the average family and you guys have the power to stop this freight train,” he added.

The Connecticut Insurance Department is looking at the proposed rate increases. 

“We will make the ultimate decision to either approve, reject or modify the request in September,” Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said. 

“Anthem is seeking a 12.3% rate increase for our individual plans which covers approximately 29,000 members and an 11.5% average rate increase for our small group plans,” Steve Ribeiro, regional vice president of sales for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said.

He said there are a number of things behind the rate request.

“One of the key factors driving up the overall costs is the ever-escalating cost of prescription drugs. Particularly new drugs and those that treat serious conditions,” he said. 

Other factors include the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Including vaccination, testing, treatment and changes in practice patterns,” he added. 

But consumers say they aren’t convinced. 

“Connecticut's families and small businesses who will pick up the tab on these rates have no official voice in this hearing,” Jill Zorn, senior policy analyst with the Universal Healthcare Foundation, said. 

That’s because the Insurance Department can’t take the issue of affordability under consideration. They must only determine whether the rates are adequate and fair to pay claims. 

“If it’s insurer solvency you’re concerned about the double-digit rate increases requested by most insurers for 2022 are clearly excessive,” she added. 

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