Connecticut regulators are scaling back health insurers’ requests for rate hikes for 2023. Most increases are still in the double digits. [Hartford Courant]

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The Connecticut Insurance Department said Friday it had reduced requests for increases in health insurance rates for 2023 but approved rates, which are still double-digit higher for more than 120,000 plan members and others.

Regulators, citing ever-rising medical and prescription drug costs, were faced with airline fare hike requests for 2023 that were higher than last year’s proposals for 2022. Airlines were targeting an average 8.6% increase in individual fares in 2021 and 12.9% for small group rates.

The inquiries from freight forwarders in the individual markets were reduced by this year insurance department to an average increase of 12.9% from 20.4%. In the small group market, premium increases of 14.8% targeted by insurers were reduced to an average of 7.9%.

Criticism came quickly, but insurance commissioner Andrew Mais said the rate cuts and measures keeping insurers’ profits at 0.5% would save more than 200,000 members $138 million next year.

“Consumers can be sure that health insurance companies in Connecticut do not benefit at the expense of their policyholders,” he said.

Medical costs are up 8% to 10% and prescription costs are up 10% to 12%, Mais said.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tonge states that healthcare costs and insurance premiums are already prohibitive for many Connecticut families and small businesses.

“These double-digit rate hikes – which are among the highest in the country – will only make this worse,” he said.

State Commissioner for Health Care Ted Doolittle said increases of 15% and more “remain outrageous and unsustainable and go Connecticut Families are once again paying massive medical bills that are hampering our country’s economic competitiveness.”

Republican leader in the Senate Kevin Kelly from stratford and Sen. Tony HwangR-Fairfield and chief Republican on the General Assembly Insurance Committee, said even with additional federal money, Connecticut Residents face “staggering increases”.

“Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, which promises affordable, accessible, quality healthcare. Here we are a decade later and that promise has never been fulfilled,” they said.

State Sen. Matt Lesser, co-chair of the Insurance Committee, said the federal inflation-reduction law extends subsidies through 2025 and limits individual health insurance premiums to no more than 8.5% of a family’s income. The federal government will pay the “vast majority” of higher premiums, Lesser said, D-middle town.

For small businesses, however, interest rates are rising much faster than inflation, Lesser said. “The Connecticut insurance industry has simply failed to contain costs,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Connecticut Association of Health Plans did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nearly 121,000 insured lives — health plan subscribers, beneficiaries, and plan members — across eight of 13 insurance plans on and outside Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange are facing average double-digit growth over the next year in markets for individuals and employers with 50 or fewer employees.

About 66,000 people in three insurance plans are paying higher rates than last year, but less than double-digit increases. And health insurance costs remain unchanged or have been reduced for about 20,000 subscribers, beneficiaries and others across two plans.

speaker Kim Can said ConnectiCare “is very aware of the impact that rate increases have on our members, and we strive to keep our plans as favorable as possible in the reality of today’s healthcare environment.”

anthem speaker Alexandra Simkin did not comment on the decision of the Ministry of Insurance. She said the insurer is confident it will provide “reliable, affordable, quality healthcare that meets the needs of consumers in this market.”

Representatives of several other insurance carriers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Anthem Health Plans, CTCare Benefits Inc., Etna Life Insurance Co., Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co., Oxford Health Plans Inc. and United HealthCare Insurance Co. are among the insurers who have won increased rates.

The requests for increases in coverage that were scaled back include ConnectiCares’ average 25.2% increase in individual coverage, which regulators reduced to 15%, the average 22.9% increase in CTCare benefits, also reduced to 15% and a 13.4% increase over that targeted by the small group plans Oxford Health Insurance that was cut to 7.9%.

anthem Health Plans’ request to increase the small group rate by 3.6% for 2023 was reduced by state insurance regulators to an average rate that will be 1.2% below this year’s rate. More than 19,000 plan participants and others will benefit.

Stephen Singer can be contacted at [email protected].

©2022 Hartford Courant. Visit courtant.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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