Are you worried about the proposed increase in health insurance rates? Connecticut residents can weigh in at an Aug. 15 hearing. – Hartford Courant

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the demand for insurance companies to raise the cost of individual health plans next year by an average of 20.4%.

The State Department of Insurance has scheduled a public hearing for August 15 starting at 9 am. The event was moved to accommodate what is expected to be a larger than usual crowd.

The hearing will have a hybrid format, with some people testifying in person and others testifying virtually. Insurance company representatives will have time to explain their requests for increased rates and officials from the insurance department will ask questions.

Anyone wishing to testify virtually can register by emailing [email protected] with their name and written comments by noon on August 12.

Those who wish to testify in person may register at the Legislative Office building on the day of the hearing, beginning at 8:30 am. Oral remarks will be limited to three minutes per person.

In addition to the significant average increase in individual plans, insurers selling policies on and off the Connecticut Affordable Care Act Exchange are seeking an average increase of 14.8% in small group plans.!

The requested increases are significantly higher than those requested last year for health policies in 2022. Carriers in 2021 requested an average increase of 8.6% for individual plans and 12.9% for small group plans.

The proposals have drawn criticism from health care advocates, who fear more people will drop coverage because they can’t afford it.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Lynne Ide, program director for communications and engagement at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, said last month. “Looking at these fee requests, their range is off the charts.

“Our big concern at the moment is, along with inflation and the fallout from COVID, these proposals increase witchcraft problems. Our concern is that people will take one look at this and decide to go without health coverage because they just can’t afford it.”

“My jaw hit the floor, of course,” added Ted Doolittle, the state’s health care attorney. “I am deeply concerned that people will go without coverage because of these high prices. It is the duty of insurance companies and providers to explain to people in the state why this is inevitable and there is no alternative.”

Attorney General William Tong requested a special hearing that would allow officials to gather evidence and question insurers closely about the proposed increase. Officials will be able to cross-examine witnesses and present their evidence in a public setting.

So far, the insurance department has not complied with this request, instead opting for the traditional informational hearing format it has followed in recent years.

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

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Anthem claimed an average increase of 8.6% for individual policies covering 27,698 people. The proposed changes range from a 1.8% decrease to a 16.1% increase, depending on the plan.

The company also claimed an average increase of 3.6% in small group policies covering 19,271 residents. The suggested changes range from a decrease of 1.2% to an increase of 26.3%.

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

It also asked for an average increase of 22.9% in small group plans covering 3,476 residents (increases range from 20% to 28.9%).

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

The insurance department will make a decision this fall on how much of an increase — if any — to the various health plans.

Open enrollment for 2023 health policies begins on November 1.

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