Representatives of insurance companies attend a public hearing on annual rate proposals.
The insurance department kept plan rates mostly flat, despite requests for increases.

State officials announced Friday that they have kept rates for policies on Connecticut’s health insurance exchange essentially flat next year, despite larger increases sought by two carriers.

Anthem Health Plans had asked for a 9.9% average increase in its individual plans, which serve 22,071 people through Access Health CT, the state’s exchange. The insurance department approved an increase of 1.9%.

Anthem also sought a 9.5% average hike for its small group policies, which serve 25,500 people. The insurance department approved an increase of 2.6%.

ConnectiCare Benefits Inc. asked for an average hike of 5.5% in its individual plans on the exchange, which cover 75,174 customers. The insurance department signed off on a decrease of 0.1%.

ConnectiCare had also suggested that premiums for its small group plans on the exchange drop by 0.2%. The insurance department instead approved a decrease of 4.1%. About 250 people are on those policies.

The insurance companies had pointed to rising medical costs and a higher demand for services when pursuing the higher rates.

“We remain extremely mindful of the impact that rate increases have on our members and have taken every possible step to keep our plans as fairly priced as possible within the reality of today’s health care environment,” Kimberly Kann, a spokeswoman for ConectiCare, said in July after the company submitted its request for increases. “Our proposed rates are based on several factors, including medical and pharmacy cost trends, along with the uncertainty and impacts of COVID-19 on our members’ expected utilization of services.”

Officials with the state’s insurance department said they found the cost assumptions to be “excessive” and noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to lower utilization of services, including elective procedures.

“Working on behalf of consumers, the department was able to reduce the health insurance rate increase requests thanks to the hard work of our actuaries and professional staff,” said Andrew Mais, the state’s insurance commissioner. “I will continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find long-term solutions while continuing to promote access and eliminate barriers to coverage here in Connecticut.”

Open enrollment for the 2021 coverage year begins Nov. 1.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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