By Trish Pearson
Insuring Your Future
Insurance plans today are quite different from 10 years ago. Most plans carry deductibles of over $2,000 per person and out-of-pocket maximums up to $10,000. The number of people who are in debt due to medical bills has increased dramatically. To add insult to injury, the insurance companies in Connecticut have filed for double digit rate increases for 2023. According to the Universal Health Association, the average requested increase for individual plans on or off the exchange is 20.4 percent, and for small business plans it is 14.8 percent.
The companies did not decrease deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums, thereby adding to the potential drain on an individual’s finances. Business owners must either absorb the increase in premiums or pass them along to their employees. Neither of these options is particularly attractive.
The insurance industry cites three reasons for the large increases. First, utilization is up. (Wasn’t that the whole idea behind expanding health insurance to all?) Second, COVID-19 caused a backlog in elective surgeries and tests that are now being done. Third, legislation was passed that requires richer benefits for people with certain conditions such as diabetes.
The Connecticut Insurance Department is currently considering these requests and is seeking public input. If these potential increases are okay with you, then do nothing. However, if you are like most people, paying higher premiums and then incurring upfront costs for medical care is not okay.
What you can do is register your concerns on the CID’s website at Portal.ct.gov/cid and click on “Health Insurance Rate Request Filings for 2023.” You can then see how much each company has requested and get an opportunity to comment on the specific company’s plan. The deadline for commenting is July 31.
A second deadline is looming that would decrease the advanced premium tax credits that were extended to many because of the American Rescue Plan Act. This plan expanded eligibility for tax credits to individuals whose incomes was less than $80,000 per year. For example, a 40-year-old making $79,000 per year currently qualifies for approximately $241 in tax credits toward a premium of $581 per month for a silver level plan.
If ARPA is not renewed, then the income cap drops to $45,000. Many people would fall off the “insurance subsidy cliff” and be faced with an approximately 59 percent increase in monthly premiums. This could result in people reverting back to rolling the dice on needing health care and dropping their insurance plans. This would defeat the whole purpose of the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation to extend ARPA beyond 2022 will come before Congress sometime in early fall. It is important to let your congressional representatives know the impact it would have on you and your family. Contact Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal to register your concerns. All three of these legislators have been supportive of legislation limiting the cost of health care, but every story gives them the ability to make a stronger case.
A major medical event can be physically painful, but it should not be financially painful as well. Speak up and speak out.
Trish Pearson is a licensed independent insurance agent and certified long term care specialist. Contact her at 203-640-5969 or [email protected]