Sep. 14--Connecticut's insurance commissioner said Friday that the department has scaled back requests for rate increases on the state's health insurance exchange, which provides coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The decision also includes rate increases requested for health plans available off the exchange.
Commissioner Andrew Mais approved an average increase for individual health insurance plans of 3.7 percent from an average request of 7.9 percent. He also approved an average increase for small group plans of 9.2 percent, down from the requested average of about 12 percent.
Connecticut consumers will save about $54 million, Mais said.
The Insurance Department issued its final rulings on 14 health insurance rate filings for the 2020 individual and small group markets. The filings were made by 10 health insurers for plans that cover about 242,000 people.
"I will continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders in Connecticut's health care system to find ways to achieve meaningful savings while continuing to promote access to some of the best health care services in the nation," he said.
Rising health care costs for prescription drugs and higher demand for medical services is also contributing to the increasing insurance costs, the department said. Other factors cited by regulators include the reinstatement of the federally mandated health insurer tax, which accounted for an average of 3 percent, or about $53 million in additional premium.
The average increase for individual coverage sought by Anthem Health Plans Inc. was 15.2 percent. The Insurance Department approved an average increase of 6.5 percent. It covers 27,318 people.
The average rate increase request by ConnectiCare Inc. was 4.9 percent and was reduced to 2 percent. It covers 75,625 people.
For small group insurance, which includes employers with 50 or fewer workers, Anthem's rate increase request of 14.8 percent was reduced by regulators to 14.3 percent. It covers 44,103 people. An average rate increase request of 4.8 percent by ConnectiCare was left as is. It covers 239 people.
ConnectiCare said in an emailed statement it will "continue to look for ways to control costs" and is focused on helping individuals and small groups during the open enrollment season, which begins Nov. 1.
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Anthem said it remains "committed to making healthcare more simple, affordable and accessible for all consumers and will continue to advocate for solutions that will stabilize the individual market."
ConnectiCare and Anthem told regulators at a hearing Sept. 4 that the elimination of the individual mandate, the policy enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, has led to fewer individuals buying insurance in the past year. President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress dropped the requirement in 2017 that Americans purchase health insurance or pay a fine.
Those who choose to not buy insurance tend to be younger and healthier, putting more pressure on those remaining, who include older and sicker people, industry executives said.
Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected].
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