Health plan customers to get notices when insurers seek to change rates

Consumers will receive a notice in the mail whenever their health insurance company seeks a rate change, the Connecticut Insurance Department announced Thursday.

The notices will apply to individual and small group policyholders, and will go out when insurers submit a request for a rate change to the insurance department. People who buy individual insurance plans — those who don’t get them through their jobs — will get the letters from the insurance carriers, while in the case of small group policies, the insurers will mail notices to the employers.

The letters will direct policyholders to the insurance department’s website, which includes information on rate requests, including the request, the company’s correspondence with the department, a summary of the filing and a section for public comments.

“Consumers have a right to know when their health carrier has filed for a new rate and the Department has worked closely with carriers to develop a letter on rate notification. Together with the Department’s postings, this letter is another important outreach resource that we can use to help educate policyholders about insurance rate procedures in Connecticut,” insurance Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi said in a statement. “I appreciate the efforts and cooperation of the carriers to keep their customers well-informed every step of the rate process.”

The department announcement about the notices included statements of praise from Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri and Democratic legislators who have pushed for more public hearings on proposed insurance rate hikes, and Keith Stover, a lobbyist for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans. The association has opposed efforts to require hearings on requests to raise rates.