Attorney General Tong, Healthcare Advocate Urge "Highest Level of Scrutiny" for Insurance Rate Hike Requests(Hartford, CT) – In joint comments submitted today to the Connecticut Insurance Department, Attorney General William Tong and Healthcare Advocate Ted Doolittle sought the “highest level of scrutiny” for rate hike requests sought by health insurers.
Eleven insurers are seeking significant rate increases for a range of individual and small group plans, including those for small businesses. The largest increases are focused on plans typically purchased by small businesses with up to 50 employees. The average increase sought for individual plans is 8.6 percent and 12.9 percent for small group plans. Attorney General Tong and Healthcare Advocate Doolittle note that healthcare spending dropped as a consequence of the pandemic. As a result, insurers reaped windfall profits. Now, they are seeking new increases in top of already inflated rates.
“Annual health insurance price increases can wreak havoc on family budgets, but to say that the current proposed increases come at a difficult time is truly an understatement. Many consumers are struggling with the impacts of COVID-19: they have lost jobs; they can't pay their rent and unemployment support is tapering. Small employers are likewise facing intense economic hardships as they struggle to regain a footing in the market. It is for these reasons and others that it is extremely important for the Insurance Department to apply the highest level of scrutiny to the alleged drivers of proposed health insurance price increases and question their merit with a detailed review,” the comments state.
Many of the plans submitting requests this year specifically cite costs related to COVID-19 as a significant basis for increasing prices. In some cases, they include costs for federally mandated coverage for testing, vaccination and treatment where federal reimbursement may have been available to health providers.
Without close analysis, the new proposed rate hikes could be added to 2021 rates that were already themselves overvalued relative to the declining experience upon which they were based. Further, the health plans have built in an assumption that declines in utilization in 2020 will result in added pent-up demand—an untested assumption that warrants thorough analysis, especially in light of the Delta variant surge.
Attorney General Tong and Healthcare Advocate Doolittle ask that the Insurance Department ensure that all assumptions are supported by evidence in the record.
Click here to view the full written comments.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Ryan assisted Attorney General Tong in this matter.