Make your voice heard against rising health insurance rates
August 17, 2020
By Rosana G. Ferraro
It’s that time of year again — when insurance companies ask for health insurance rate increases for individual and small group plans. While this happens every year, this year is different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is outrageous that health insurance companies are asking for rate increases in the midst of a pandemic. People have been using their health care less this past year, since many are avoiding doctor’s offices and hospitals so they don’t get sick.
In fact, UnitedHealth Group saw it’s most profitable quarter in history in the 2nd quarter, and other health insurance companies are not worried about their profits, despite the economic downturn.
We encourage you to submit comment on rate increases that would impact you. The deadline to do so is Aug. 22. We have a complete how-to guide at the end of this post if it’s your first time. It is important for insurance companies and the Connecticut Insurance Department to hear how rates will impact every day folks.
As the September 2nd rate review hearing nears, we’ll also be sure to let you know how you can speak up there, too.
You’ve probably heard about rate review, rate filings, increases in premiums — here’s what you need to know about it.
One part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reformed how individual and small group health insurance plans are priced. Now those plans are looked over at the state level and have to be approved by the state insurance department before they can be sold to consumers — this is known as rate review.
Who is impacted by rate review?
People who have individual market plans (not through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare)
People on small group market plans, which are for small businesses of 50 employees or less.
So what is rate review?
The Connecticut Insurance Department has a resource about rate review in Connecticut, but it basically goes like this:
- Health insurance companies have to submit rate filings by a deadline set by the Connecticut Insurance Department. They provide information on the individual and small group plans they want to sell for the next year. Rate filings include the proposed rate increases and decreases for the plans the company is selling, and their justification.
- The Connecticut Insurance Department reviews all the information submitted in the rate filings, specifically looking at whether rates are excessive. (Note: Excessive has not been interpreted to mean “excessive for the consumer,” even though we know that the cost of health insurance is unaffordable for many individuals and small businesses.)
- The public has the opportunity to comment online about the proposed rates through the Connecticut Insurance Department website’s dedicated webpage.
- There are often public or informational hearings about some of the rate filings. Now, due to the pandemic, the public hearing on September 2, 2020 will likely be virtual.
- The Connecticut Insurance Department will then make a decision to approve the rate requests depending on the information gathered during the review and hearing process.
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How do I submit comment on health insurance rate requests for individual and small group plans?
So, if you’ve gotten a letter from your insurance company that your rates are going up, or you checked the rate chart and saw your plan, how can you speak up?
One way you can be heard is by posting public comment on the specific rate filing that will be affecting you. We’re here to explain how to do that.
The Connecticut Insurance Department has a dedicated web page for this year’s rate filings, so you can submit your comments online.
First thing to know — the deadline!
The public comment period opened on July 24, 2020 and, according to the filings, lasts for 30 days. For good measure, submit your comment by August 22, 2019, but if you’re just finding this after that date, go ahead and check out if the comment period is still open.
How to find the right plan to comment on
Keep scrolling on the dedicated web page to find your plan.
For example, you’ll see something like this when you scroll through (this image is from 2018, FYI, but this year it looks similar):
In this example, this is the proposed rate increase for ConnectiCare plans sold on the exchange (Access Health CT) for an individual. The three most important details to look for:
- The name of your insurance company
- Whether these are the rates for on exchange (if you buy your insurance through Access Health CT) or off exchange (if you buy your insurance in another way)
- Whether this is the rate filing for an individual plan (one you buy on your own) or small group (one your small business/employer buys).
Once you find your plan, you can click “Select” and it will take you to the right place to type in your comment about how this will affect you.
What should I say?
We recommend hitting on the following points:
- That you are currently a member of the plan
- How the rate increase will impact you and your family — and be as specific as you can. Tell your story, how having to pay more will make it harder to make ends meet, or how costs make it unaffordable to use your insurance.
Keep in mind that these comments will become part of the public record, and likely will be available to be seen by anyone who is interested — so make sure that you’re specific without revealing too much information.
And that’s it?
Click “Submit Comment” and yes, that’s it.
We hope this helps you raise your voice!
· Both the testimony for the telehealth and diabetes bills are available at the Insurance and Real Estate Committee’s page.