State asks Anthem, ConnectiCare, to file new rates

This is a picture of Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.

Arielle Levin Becker / The CT Mirror

Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.

The Connecticut Insurance Department on Wednesday asked Anthem and ConnectiCare to submit new rate filings for 2018 based on the possibility the federal government will stop “cost-sharing reduction” payments to the insurers that subsidize lower co-payment and deductibles for low-income Americans.

President Donald Trump has not made a commitment to continuing these payments, so Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade has asked the carriers to “submit a supplemental filing that contemplates the absence of CSR payments for 2018 and to apply that impact only on Silver exchange plans,” the only plans eligible for the out-of-pocket subsidies.

In May, Anthem asked the Insurance Department for an average rate hike of 33.8 percent on plans covering individuals and their families.

ConnectiCare asked for an average rate hike of 15.2 percent on policies it sells through Access Health CT, where it now covers about 51,000 people.

The Congressional Budget Office determined that if the Trump administration stops funding cost-sharing reduction payments, silver-plan premiums on the Affordable Care Act exchanges like Access Health CT would rise by an average of 20 percent in 2018 and 25 percent by 2020.

So the new rates filings by Anthem and ConnectiCare for “silver” plans are expected to be substantially higher than those submitted in May and currently under review by the Insurance Department.

“The Department has not made a final determination on rates for 2018,” Wade said in a statement. “This supplemental filing will give the Department maximum flexibility in making final determinations for health insurance rates on the exchange within the tight time limits and have rates set for open enrollment in November.”

The commissioner gave the insurer until close of business on Wednesday, Aug. 30 to file their rates.

Both Anthem and ConnectiCare have said the uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act and the future of CSR payments have led them to consider leaving the exchange. As recently as Tuesday at a rally in Phoenix, Ariz, Trump said he would continue pushing to “get rid of Obamacare.”

“Substantial uncertainty about 2018 and beyond is impacting the exchange markets both nationally and here in Connecticut, said ConnectiCare spokeswoman Kim Kann. “There are many questions about who will be covered, what benefits will be required, and what subsidies and other financial support will be available to our members.”

Besides citing the uncertainty of “cost-sharing reduction payments that defray costs for low- income individuals,” Kann said the “individual mandate that allowed us to predict how many people would be covered is not being actively enforced.”

“It may potentially not be part of the architecture going forward,” she said.

In every one of their plans to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act, congressional Republicans included an end to the “individual mandate” that requires most Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service.

“We are closely monitoring developments so we can make the best decision for our members and our company,” Kann said.

 

 

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