In­sur­ance reg­u­la­tors ap­prove dou­ble-digit rate hikes

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - OBITUARIES - By Chris­tine Stu­art CTNewsJunkie.com

HART­FORD » With­out any guar­an­tees from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Con­necti­cut’s in­sur­ance reg­u­la­tors de­cided to al­low two car­ri­ers to boost their pre­mi­ums in 2018 by an av­er­age of 31.7 per­cent for An­them and 27.7 per­cent for Con­nec­tiCare Ben­e­fit cus­tomers.

The in­creases ap­proved as­sume that cost shar­ing re­duc­tions pay­ments — that go to in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to help them off­set the de­ductibles and co-in­sur­ance for lower in­come in­di­vid­u­als — won’t con­tinue.

In­sur­ance Depart­ment of­fi­cials said if there was a guar­an­tee the cost shar­ing re­duc­tions would con­tinue the ap­proved rate in­crease for Con­nec­tiCare Ben­e­fits would have been 16.8 per­cent, in­stead of 27.7 per­cent and for An­them Health Plans it would have been 24.7 per­cent, in­stead of 31.7 per­cent.

“The Depart­ment has made its rate de­ter­mi­na­tions for 2018 to pro­vide cer­tainty for Con­necti­cut con­sumers, the in­sur­ance mar­ket and Ac­cess Health CT to be ready for the in­di­vid­ual mar­ket open en­roll­ment pe­riod which be­gins Novem­ber 1, 2017,” In­sur­ance Com­mis­sioner Katharine Wade said. “The in­crease in rates for the Sil­ver ex­change plans will be mit­i­gated for con­sumers, el­i­gi­ble for fed­eral tax cred­its, be­cause they will be off­set by the in­crease to tax cred­its for 2018.”

The fed­eral tax cred­its will in­crease for cus­tomers who would have tra­di­tion­ally been sub­si­dized through cost shar­ing re­duc­tions.

The two in­sur­ance car­ri­ers re­ceived about $50 mil­lion a year in cost shar­ing re­duc­tions for 46,000 of the 98,000 ex­change cus­tomers. About 25 per­cent of the 98,000 ex­change cus­tomers re­ceive ad­vanced pre­mium tax cred­its and 25 per­cent re­ceive no fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

In­sur­ance reg­u­la­tors de­ter­mined that med­i­cal costs in­creased an av­er­age of 10.5 per­cent and elim­i­na­tion of the mora­to­rium on the health in­sur­ance tax in­creased pre­mi­ums on av­er­age 3 per­cent. The av­er­age in­crease as­sume for the elim­i­na­tion of the cost shar­ing re­duc­tion pay­ments was 16.7 per­cent and it’s ap­plied only to the sil­ver plans on the ex­change.

“This has been a chal­leng­ing year for all in­volved due to the un­cer­tainty about fed­eral fund­ing for the Cost Shar­ing Re­duc­tions pay­ments and in­di­vid­ual mar­ket sta­bil­ity chal­lenges. CSR pay­ments are im­por­tant fi­nan­cial re­lief for con­sumer outof-pocket costs,” Wade said. “We con­tinue to work with the Mal­loy ad­min­is­tra­tion, our con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion and fel­low in­sur­ance reg­u­la­tors on so­lu­tions that will pro­vide cer­tainty on CSR fund­ing and sta­bi­lize the mar­ket for our cit­i­zens.”

Con­necti­cut of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Wade and Ac­cess Health CT CEO James Wadleigh have reached out to mem­bers of Congress, to make sug­ges­tions about what can be done to sta­bi­lize the in­di­vid­ual mar­ket­places.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment could guar­an­tee the cost­shar­ing re­duc­tions, en­force the penalty peo­ple are sup­posed to pay if they choose not to pur­chase in­sur­ance, or cre­ate a “na­tional rein­sur­ance pool,” Wadleigh has said.

At the end of Septem­ber, Repub­li­cans will no longer be able to pass a re­peal bill with 50 votes. U.S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy spec­u­lated ear­lier this week that they will try once more to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act, also known as Oba­macare, but those at­tempts will be made harder by the progress the Se­nate Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, La­bor and Pen­sions Com­mit­tee is mak­ing on a bi­par­ti­san pack­age of re­forms and fixes.

Mur­phy said the goal within the sev­eral days is to come up with a small pack­age of re­forms that can pass the U.S. Se­nate and send a mes­sage of sta­bil­ity to the in­sur­ance mar­kets.

Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wy­man an­nounced ear­lier to­day that the two in­sur­ance com­pa­nies had de­cided to par­tic­i­pate in 2018.

This story has been mod­i­fied from its orig­i­nal ver­sion. See the orig­i­nal at ctnewsjunkie.com.

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