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Insurers Justify Health Coverage Rate Hikes

The two insurers remaining on Access Health Connecticut told state regulators Wednesday that their proposed rate increases have to do with changes at the federal level to requirements for health coverage.

Anthem and Connecticare are the only companies offering individual market plans on Access Health Connecticut when open enrollment begins in November.

Robert Kosior, Connecticare’s chief operating officer, said the company has to raise rates as more healthy residents decide that they do not need any health coverage.

"We believe there is a new and growing uninsured population,” Kosior said during the hearing at the Connecticut Department of Insurance in Hartford. “Those who prior to the Affordable Care Act could afford insurance and did so to protect themselves and their families but who are now choosing no longer to purchase health insurance due to its high costs. These individuals tend to be younger and healthier resulting in higher costs for those remaining in the individual market."

Both Anthem and Connecticare said the decision by the Republican-controlled Congress and President Donald Trump to repeal the individual mandate that all Americans carry some kind of health coverage contributed to the drop off in enrollments, and increase in premium rates for the 2019 year.

On average, Anthem proposed rate increases that average nine percent, but on at least one plan the company wants to increase rates by 31 percent. Connecticare filed rate increase proposals that averaged 13 percent, and even proposed cutting at least one plan by more than ten percent, but does still propose raising one rate by at least 17.8 percent.

Anthem is Connecticut’s largest insurer, overall, and it covered 45,500 lives on plans purchased on Access Health Connecticut. Connecticare, however, covered more lives covered by plans purchased on Access Health, 63,693.

Tu Nguyen, Anthem’s Director of Actuarial Services, told state regulators that rates are going up as a result of the overall marketplace for insurance contracting in Connecticut.

"When the members have to make a choice, what's best for them, the healthy members are more likely to drop coverage and the ones that know they need the healthcare are more likely going to stay in the market. So, based on our modeling, there is an impact of healthier members dropping out of the market."

Jennifer Lovett is the President of Crystal Financial Insurance Services that helps residents and businesses select and purchase insurance coverage. She says as rates have risen in the past few years for various reasons, her business and her clients have suffered.

"When you have a couple that's getting close to retirement and they're making $70,000 a year they do not qualify for a subsidy and when their premium is literally, $30,000 a year, do the math. What's left?"

The Department of Insurance will rule later in September on final rate hikes, if any, for consumers.

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