Insurance carriers selling policies on and off Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange are asking for an average increase of 12.4% on 2024 individual health plans, a smaller overall request than last year, but still higher than those in previous years.
On small group policies, the insurance companies asked for an average rate hike of 14.8%, the same as 2022. The state’s insurance department released the proposed increases Friday.
Last year, the companies asked for an average hike of 20.4% on individual health plans, a move one health care advocate called “jaw-dropping.”
The insurance department ultimately approved average increases of 12.9% on individual plans and 7.9% on small group policies, though the changes varied by plan. The smallest increase was 6% and the largest was 25%.
The filings for 2024 collectively cover about 188,000 people statewide.
“The review process will delve deeply into each submission, requiring insurers to provide justifications and supporting evidence,” insurance department officials said in a statement. “As always, our rate reviews will be comprehensive, continuing our ongoing efforts to promote transparency and accountability. By utilizing various tools, such as benchmarking and other industry best practices, we strive to maintain a fair and competitive insurance market while prioritizing the interests of consumers.”
Actuaries with the department will review the requests for increases. As part of the review, they will look at trends in unit cost (total expenditure incurred by the company), utilization of services and expected severity of claims. The department will issue questions to the insurers and seek clarification if needed.
It will also hold a public hearing to get input from the carriers, health care advocates and the public. After the review, the department can approve the full request, reject it or amend it. The final changes are typically published in September.
“These rates will be simply unaffordable for too many Connecticut families, individuals and businesses,” Attorney General William Tong said Friday. “We are thoroughly scrutinizing these filings and expect to play an active role in this process.”
Three insurers are selling policies on the exchange: Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc., and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.
Anthem sought an average increase of 9.8% on individual plans it sells through the exchange that cover 33,939 people. The proposed increases range from 6.8% to 13.6%, depending on the plan.
The company also asked for an average hike of 14.9% on small group policies that cover 27,565 people. The suggested increases range from 8.9% to 22.1%.
CTCare Benefits Inc. requested an average hike of 12.7% for individual plans that cover 64,482 people. The proposed increases range from 10.2% to 15.5%
And ConnectiCare Insurance Company sought an average hike of 17.5% on individual policies that cover 11,954 people. The recommended increases range from 10.2% to 22.2%, depending on the plan.
Until this year, CTCare Benefits also sold small group policies on the exchange, but it has pulled out, saying it could “no longer offer competitively priced fully insured small employer products.” ConnectiCare Insurance does not sell small group plans.
Insurers are also asking for increases on off-exchange policies.
“Obviously, the numbers are too big as they habitually are,” said Ted Doolittle, the state’s health care advocate. “Nobody out there is getting a 12.4% wage increase. So it’s the same story as we’ve seen the past few years — a lot more expenses for the average family to absorb.”
Doolittle said the rate increases are causing more people to turn to cheaper health plans that don’t have the same protections afforded under the ACA, such as limits on discrimination against pre-existing conditions. “We continue to see the exodus of folks from the ACA plans, which are better plans because they do have the consumer protections.”
He also suggested the state move its rate review process to the months that the legislature is in session, so lawmakers can quickly craft bills in response to large proposed increases. The review process typically takes place during the summer.
“We remain extremely mindful of the impact that rate increases have on our members,” said Kimberly Kann, a spokeswoman for ConnectiCare. “Our proposed rates are determined by medical and pharmacy cost trends and our members’ need for care. We are committed to supporting the state’s health insurance marketplace and providing Connecticut residents with high-quality health plans, as we have for over 40 years.”
The insurance department will hold an informational hearing on the rate requests, at which the public is invited to comment. A date has not yet been set for the hearing.
The public can also submit written comments on the department’s website.
Open enrollment for the 2024 coverage year begins Nov. 1.