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Connecticut health insurance increases approved, labeled “tone deaf” by Republicans

The Connecticut Insurance Department approved rate increases for individual and small group insurance plans, which amounted to an average increase of 12.9 percent for individual plans and 7.9 percent for small group plans across nine health insurers.

The Department indicated that rising medical and prescription costs and adjusting the morbidity experience factored into their final approvals, which were smaller than originally requested by insurers who sought increases of 20.4 percent for individual plans and 14.8 percent for small group plans.

Following approval of the adjustments, Republican senators Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, who serves on the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee and Republican Senate Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, issued a press release calling the adjustments “tone deaf.”

“The Lamont administration’s approval of these staggering rate hikes is infuriating. It is also tone deaf to thousands of Connecticut ratepayers whose family budgets are already getting crushed by inflation,” the senators said. “It is obvious why the Lamont administration is dumping this bad news just prior to the Labor Day weekend. They want the public not to notice.”

The original much higher requests were slammed by state lawmakers both sides of the political aisle who believed they were far too high during a time of high inflation.

A letter sent by Rep. Matthew Blumenthal, D-Stamford, to the Insurance Department in early August called the rate increase requests “outrageous” and urging the Insurance Department to reject them.

“They far outstrip rate hikes for any year in recent memory. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are posting large and growing profits, and their CEOs receiving record-high compensation,” Blumenthal wrote. “Even more egregious, these rate hikes have been requested at a moment when families across Connecticut are already struggling with the high cost of healthcare and health insurance, as well as inflation in the prices of other goods and services.”

Public comments regarding the insurance rate increases were equally angry and urged the department to reject them.

The new insurance rates will affect those getting coverage through Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange formed under the Affordable Care Act, with Anthem receiving approval for an average rate increase of 6.3 percent and ConnectiCare Insurance Company receiving an average increase approval of 15 percent.

Both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly have been seeking to tackle rising insurance costs in recent years, albeit in very different ways. 

Democrats have pushed for a public option plan that would be run by the state comptroller and allow small businesses and individuals to piggy-back on the state’s Partnership Plan 2.0 with municipalities. The idea was strongly opposed by the state’s insurance companies and ultimately sidelined when Gov. Ned Lamont withdrew support.

Republicans have pushed their own plan utilizing the reinsurance program, part of the Affordable Care Act, medical cost benchmarking and acquiring pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, but have yet to get their plan voted on at the committee level.

“Even with the new additional federal bailout money, CT residents are still facing staggering increases,” Kelly and Hwang said. “It’s unacceptable.”

Open enrollment for 2023 coverage begins on November 1, 2022.

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Marc E. Fitch, Senior Investigative Reporter

Marc E. Fitch

Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels, along with numerous freelance reporting jobs and publications. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University.

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