After rate hike rejected, Anthem to decrease premiums next year

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s individual-market customers will, on average, see a slight decrease in their premiums next year under new rates approved by the Connecticut Insurance Department.

Anthem, the state’s largest insurer, initially requested approval to raise rates by an average of 12.5 percent. But the insurance department rejected the proposal and asked the company to resubmit its plan using different calculations.

The result: An average premium decrease of 0.1 percent for Anthem customers.

The actual change will vary by plan. People who bought catastrophic policies -- which are limited to people under 30 or those whose old plans were discontinued -- will see a 15.47 percent rate decrease.

The highest approved increase was for people with one high-level gold plan, who will see their premiums rise by 4.23 percent.

The new rates cover plans sold through the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, as well as those sold outside the exchange.

Anthem’s rate proposal was the most high-profile of those filed by insurance carriers for next year. It was the subject of a public hearing in June and drew nearly 150 written comments from customers who urged the department to reject the request.

In rejecting Anthem’s initial proposal, Insurance Department Actuary Paul Lombardo determined that the company should reduce or remove several factors used in calculating premiums, including the estimate of how much the cost of covering medical services will rise. He also concluded that insurers will be eligible for more federal aid in the case of large medical claims than companies assumed when calculating their rates. Lombardo provided new guidelines for Anthem to use in recalculating its rates.

In a statement Friday, Anthem said it has “demonstrated a strong commitment” to working with the insurance department and Access Health to bring coverage to more state residents.

“Anthem has proudly served our members for more than 75 years and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our members, the [insurance department], and others to provide access to quality health care coverage and plans in Connecticut,” the statement said.

The insurance department is allowing ConnectiCare to raise its rates by an average of 3.1 percent next year, a significant decrease from the company’s initial proposal. HealthyCT received approval to lower its rates by 8.5 percent -- down slightly from decrease the company initially proposed.

The insurance regulator also rejected UnitedHealthcare’s initial proposal for 2015 individual-market rates and later approved lower premiums. The carrier does not currently offer plans in the individual market.

Here's how plans sold on the exchange will be affected:

Premium changes for Anthem's exchange plans
These changes apply to plans sold through the exchange in 2015
Plan name Tier Costs would By…
HMO Catastrophic Pathway X Enhanced 6600/0% Catastrophic Decrease 15.47 percent
HMO Bronze Pathway X Enhanced 0% for H.S.A. Bronze Decrease 4.64 percent
HMO Bronze Pathway X Enhanced 5750/0% Bronze Increase 3.25 percent
PPO Bronze Standard Pathway X 5000/40% Bronze Decrease 7.30 percent
PPO Silver Standard Pathway X 2600 Silver Increase 1.03 percent
PPO Silver Pathway X 3200/0% Silver Increase 0.75 percent
HMO Gold Pathway X Enhanced 1500/0% Gold Increase 4.23 percent
PPO Gold Standard Pathway X 1000 Gold Increase 1.50 percent
Connecticut Insurance Department

Here's how plans sold outside the exchange will be affected:

Premium changes for Anthem's off-exchange plans
These changes apply to plans sold outside the exchange in 2015
Plan name Tier Costs would… By…
Anthem HMO Catastrophic BlueCare 6600/0% Catastrophic Decrease 14.23 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 0% for H.S.A. Bronze Decrease 2.82 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 0% for H.S.A. Bronze Decrease 3.34 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 5500/0% Bronze Increase 2.98 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 6000/0% Bronze Decrease 5.04 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 0% for H.S.A. Silver Decrease 1.03 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 3000/0% Silver Increase 3.49 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 3500/0% Silver Decrease 1.75 percent
Anthem HMO BlueCare 1500/0% Gold Increase 2.31 percent
Connecticut Insurance Department

To see how the plans sold on the exchange are changing in 2015, click here.

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About Arielle Levin Becker

Arielle Levin Becker was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on home caretakers from the National Association of Health Journalists. Arielle previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter. She also has covered education and municipal beats for The Courant and for the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, N.J. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University. E-mail her at alevinbecker@ctmirror.org.

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