Top CT insurance regulator sees ‘shared sacrifice’ in limiting profits for health insurers as consumer rates rise [Hartford Courant]

Limitation of health insurers in Connecticut at a low profit margin coupled with double-digit rate increases borne by nearly 190,000 residents warrants a shared sacrifice, the state’s top insurance regulator said Tuesday.

The Insurance Department announced on Friday that it has reduced demands for health insurance rate increases for 2023. But the higher prices for many beneficiaries and insurance scheme participants are still in the double digits, drawing criticism from consumer advocates and Democrats and Republicans in the General assembly.

Commissioner Andrew But told an online press conference to discuss rate increases that the decision to keep insurers’ earnings at 0.5% could be seen by companies as “almost profitless and it may not be sustainable at all.” long term”.

“But again, this is the moment of shared sacrifice,” he said. “As a department, what we wanted to do was make sure we all sacrificed, including the insurance companies.”

Paul Lombardodirector of life and Connecticut Department of Insurance Health Division, said regulators decided last year to limit carriers’ profit and risk margin to 3%. “This year we took it a step further and limited it to half a percent,” he said.

In doing so, the Insurance Department reduced administrative expenses that contributed to a reduced premium, Lombardo said.

A spokeswoman for the insurers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But also said the rates could not be inadequate. “Companies have to pay their bills,” he said.

Increases in health insurance are directly linked to rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, the Insurance Department said. Medical costs increase by 8-10% next year and increase by 1-12% for prescriptions.

The pandemic is also to blame, regulators said. Mental health services have been in greater demand following the public health crisis, providers have faced more serious health issues due to delayed procedures and diagnostic tests, and costs are higher due to the COVID-19 treatment, testing and vaccinations.

The Insurance Department warned that prices could rise again if the federal government transfers the cost of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to private insurers and the commercial market next year. The federal government now buys vaccines and boosters, and private insurers pay providers for administration.

Federal pandemic relief grants will make a ‘huge difference’ to Connecticut residents who are insured through the state health exchange, he said.

This year, the demands of carriers in the private market have been reduced by the Insurance Department to an average increase of 12.9% against 20.4%. On the market for small groups, premium increases were reduced to 7.9% on average against 14.8% sought by insurers.

Nearly 121,000 covered lives — policyholders, beneficiaries and health insurance plan members — across eight of 13 insurance plans on and off Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act Exchange will face average double-digit increases next week. next year in the markets for individuals and employers with 50 workers or less.

About 66,000 people in three insurance plans will pay higher rates than last year, but short of double-digit increases. And health insurance costs will remain stable or have been reduced for about 20,000 subscribers, beneficiaries and others on two counts.

The Insurance Department says the small group market is shrinking. A significant number of small employers disappeared during the pandemic, Lombardo said. In addition, other options are available, including so-called tier-funded health plans for employers who wish to leave fully insured health care but are not ready to fully self-insure.

Stephen Singer can be attached to [email protected].

©2022 Hartford Courant. Visit current.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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