Column: Connecticut senators demand answers on health insurance costs

By Tony Hwang and Kevin Kelly

1 Comment

Those with high blood pressure may want to sit down for this news.

The majority of insurers who sell individual and small group employer plans in Connecticut have asked for double-digit increases for next year’s policies, with average increases as high as 28 percent among plans that cover thousands of workers and their families.

That’s right. Twenty-eight percent.

Sound excessive? Sound unaffordable? It does to us, too.

The state insurance department, which must approve rate increases, is hosting public hearings in August. You can also comment online now at ct.gov/cid.

Raising your voice is important to send a message to state officials. But we know it takes many voices to be heard in Hartford.

In all likelihood, rates will go up. By a lot. Again.

You see, the state’s health insurance rate process is broken. It lacks predictability, sustainability and transparency. And it’s really a microcosm of what happens at the State Capitol when a state budget gets crafted and approved by the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

Just like one never knows when and which taxes will be hiked in Connecticut from year to year, just try to predict and plan your future insurance costs in this state.

It’s impossible. There is no rhyme or reason to it.

What if Connecticut changed the specific definitions of what would disqualify insurers from excessive increases? What if we called for mandatory state public hearings when proposed health insurance rate increases exceed 10 percent?

We did. Democrats and Republicans supported it. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy promptly vetoed it.

Ever wonder just how high your rates have jumped, say, in the last decade? For a great many of you reading this, it’s been more than 100 percent. The unsustainable, unstable path we are on is clear evidence that the Affordable Care Act is not living up to its billing and is collapsing under its own bureaucratic weight.

Remember the vaunted promises? Sure you do. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” might ring a bell.

Now, guess who pays more and more for those broken promises?

You do, of course.

Isn’t it time we shine a light on the root cause of our ever-rising insurance premiums?

Isn’t it time we inject some sorely needed transparency into this rigged game and ensure that health care insurance consumers’ rights are not violated?

Isn’t it time we put overburdened consumers first instead of trying to keep them perpetually in the dark?

It’s your money. There can be no secrecy. There must be accountability. Massive premium increases must be explained and justified.

The public hearings take place in Hartford on Aug. 3 and 4. Between now and then — and long after you get your brand new double digit rate hike notices in the mail — we’ll be on the front line of the fight to restore public faith in the premium rate review process.

We’re not going away. We won’t be silent. Will you?

Contact us if you share our frustration and want to remind the decision-makers in Hartford who they work for.

State Sen. Kevin Kelly of Stratford can be reached at Kevin.Kelly@cga.ct.gov. On the web: SenatorKevinKelly.com. State Sen. Tony Hwang of Fairfield can be reached at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov. On the web: SenatorHwang.com.

Print

About the author

VIDEOS