Increase to health insurance costs to be discussed at hearings - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Increase to health insurance costs to be discussed at hearings

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Insurance companies like Anthem are asking for a rate increase for people on and off of the state's health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. (WFSB file photo) Insurance companies like Anthem are asking for a rate increase for people on and off of the state's health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A significant increase to health insurance costs could be coming next year.

A few of Connecticut's health insurers are pushing to raise rates by at least 20 percent.

The first of three hearings with the Connecticut Insurance Department got underway Wednesday morning in Hartford.

Ahead of it, more than 450 emails have been sent to the insurance department from concerned people.

The department said it would vet each rate request to see if it's justified.

Fourteen insurance companies, which cover about 330,000 people, have filed for rate increases ranging from 2 to 32 percent.

They've cited various reasons, including increases in pharmacy costs and higher demand for medical services.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield said it is requesting an average increase of 27 percent for people on and off of the state's health insurance exchange, Access Health CT.

Currently, about 57,000 people fall under those plans.

"It's going to directly affect what we pay at work and what we pay at the doctor and everything," said Richard Garrey of Wethersfield. "Yeah, so that's very alarming."

Two more hearings are set for Thursday and involve Connecticare and Aetna, which are asking for an average rate increase of between 24 and 28 percent for "off-exchange" plans.

Some parents told Eyewitness News that while the potential for an increase is alarming, they will have to find a way to pay for it.

"You need health insurance," said Joe Orsini of Newington. "You have a family. You have to go to the doctor, you have check-ups, you have to go to the dentist. We need this stuff, so either way we're going to figure out a way to pay for it."

The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut sought to stress that affordability for consumers must be considered by the department when it evaluates rate hikes.

The foundation said the CID has claimed that state statute does not direct it to consider consumer affordability standards when deciding if the proposed rate increases will be accepted or adjusted.

“We come to the conclusion that affordability must become part of the department’s charge,” said Lynne Ide, director of program and policy at Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, in testimony submitted to the CID. “We need affordability standards against which rate hikes are evaluated. The department must be charged with looking out for all of us, not only the viability of the insurers.” 

The hearing on Wednesday morning began at 9 a.m.

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