Health insurance premiums to rise with new rates

·2 min read

Sep. 14—HARTFORD — The state Insurance Department has approved increases in health insurance premium rates for 2022 that are less than insurers sought but more than advocates would like.

Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais said in a news release that the department had reduced rates requested by health insurers by 35% for the individual market and by 48% for the small group market, resulting in average increases of 5.6% and 6.7%, respectively.

The move is projected to save about $76 million for approximately 222,700 Connecticut residents.

But Mais said more needs to be done to address the "skyrocketing health care costs these premiums cover," saying medical costs have increased about 9% while prescription costs have risen 11%.

Attorney General William Tong criticized the rate hikes, saying that he didn't think the increases were warranted.

"These significant increases will be one more strain on Connecticut families and small businesses at a tremendously challenging time," Tong said. "While I recognize that the Connecticut Insurance Department did not give insurers all that they asked for, these rate hikes are still far too high."

Tong said the department needs to "take a hard look" at its process for reviewing insurance rates and make health insurers demonstrate why the rates are necessary.

State Health Care Advocate Ted Doolittle also criticized the rate hikes, calling them "bad news for consumers and small businesses."

Doolittle acknowledged that increasing medical and pharmacy fees are driving premium hikes. But he called out health insurers for not being able to negotiate better prices, and suggested having high-cost health care providers and drug makers present at future rate hearings to justify their prices.

"Justifying these underlying medical prices in public is especially urgent in our new high-deductible world, where most consumers have to pay all of their own non-routine medical expenses, at whatever price is negotiated by their insurance companies," Doolittle said.

The Connecticut Insurance Department received 15 rate filings from 11 health insurers for plans that will be offered on the individual and small group market, according to the news release.

Austin Mirmina is the Journal Inquirer's business reporter and also covers the town of Windsor.

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