Health insurance rates could go up for tens of thousands of Connecticut residents and public hearings held today and tomorrow will determine what happens.
The state Insurance Department is holding public hearings Wednesday and Thursday on proposed rate hikes. Learn more about the proposals here.
A hearing 9 a.m. today addressed Anthem’s proposal to raise rates for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield members by nearly 27 percent for plans on and off the state’s health insurance exchange, which would affect more than 56,000 people.
The meeting was held at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 153 Market St. in Hartford.
West Haven resident Gaye Hyre spoke out against the hike in January and again Wednesday.
We’re not consumers, we’re not customers, we are people and we are patients,” Hyre said.
She’s a cancer survivor on a fixed income and said that she can’t afford more hikes.
“The deductible keeps moving away from you because this test doesn’t go toward the deductible, that medication doesn’t go to the deductible,” she said. “This is untenable. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Following Hyre, Douglas Wade, a fourth generation owner of Wade’s Dairy Inc. in Bridgeport spoke. He said over the past 10 years he has seen employees dropping out of the health care program because they cannot afford it.
“We have fewer employees on it now because they’re finding it unaffordable. Come January I can’t absorb another rate increase like this and I know my employees, even those that can afford and deem it necessary to have insurance, they can’t use it,” said Wade.
State Senator Tony Hwang opposed the rate hike on behalf the 28th District. He said the middle class is footing the burden for those in the state’s exchange program.
“The plan is flawed the execution is simply not working as we’ve seen by the incredibly high rate increases that are being asked year after year. If nothing else the affordable care act is absolutely unaffordable,” said Hwang.
In a statement, Anthem said they need to raise the rates because of the rising cost of healthcare, such as changes in pharmacy costs and the elimination of funds from the federal reinsurance program.
“As the healthcare market continues to evolve, the changes in our 2017 individual rate filings reflect a deeper understanding of our market, in the post-ACA environment. Factors such as increased use of medical services and added costs of drugs and medical therapies put upward pressure on rates and underscore the work that needs to be done to continue to stabilize the exchanges. We remain steadfast in our efforts to work with all stakeholders to help ensure the viability and sustainability of the public exchanges,” the statement read in part.
Hearings on Aetna and ConnectiCare proposals will be held on Thursday.
ConnectiCare wants to raise rates by anywhere from 14.2 percent to 39.8 percent, depending on which plan you have.
Aetna wants a nearly 28 percent increase for off exchange plans, which are mainly held by employers, and that would affect around 6,300 people.
During the rate review process, the health insurance companies have to justify that the cost of healthcare is going up and they need to charge more.
Last year, rates went up, but not as much as what the insurance companies were looking for.
Wednesday, Aug. 3 -- 9 a.m., Room 701 at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 7th Floor, 153 Market St. in Hartford
Thursday, Aug. 4 -- 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Room 701 at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 7th Floor, 153 Market St. in Hartford
Thursday, Aug. 4 -- 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Room 701 at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 7th Floor, 153 Market St. in Hartford