By Trish Pearson
Secure your future
Insurance plans today are very different from those of 10 years ago. Most plans have deductibles of over $2,000 per person and maximum payouts of up to $10,000. The number of people in debt due to medical expenses has increased dramatically. To add insult to injury, Connecticut insurance companies have requested double-digit rate increases for 2023. According to the Universal Health Association, the average increase requested for individual plans on or off-exchange is 20.4 percent, and for small business plans it is 14.8 percent.
Companies have not lowered deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums, adding to the potential drain on an individual’s finances. Business owners must either absorb the increased premiums or pass them on to their employees. None of these options are particularly attractive.
The insurance industry cites three reasons for the steep increases. First, usage is up. (Wasn’t that the idea behind extending health insurance to all?) Second, COVID-19 has caused a backlog in elective surgeries and testing that are currently underway. Third, a law was passed that requires richer benefits for people with certain conditions such as diabetes.
The Connecticut Department of Insurance is currently reviewing these claims and seeking public comment. If these potential increases suit you, do nothing. However, if you’re like most people, it’s not acceptable to pay higher premiums and then incur the upfront costs for medical care.
What you can do is register your concerns on the CID website at Portal.ct.gov/cid and click on “2023 Health Insurance Rate Filings.” You can then see how much each company has requested and have the option to comment on the specific company’s plan. The deadline for commenting is July 31.
A second deadline is looming that would reduce advanced premium tax credits that have been extended to many people due to the American Rescue Plan Act. This plan extended eligibility for tax credits to individuals whose income was less than $80,000 per year. For example, a 40-year-old male earning $79,000 per year currently qualifies for about $241 in tax credits toward a premium of $581 per month for a silver level plan.
If ARPA is not renewed, the income cap drops to $45,000. Many people would fall off the “insurance subsidy cliff” and face an increase of around 59% in monthly premiums. This could cause people to start rolling the dice again for needing health care and ditch their insurance plans. This would defeat the purpose of the Affordable Care Act.
Legislation to extend ARPA beyond 2022 will be introduced to Congress in early fall. It is important to inform your representatives in Congress of the impact this will have on you and your family. Contact the representative Rosa DeLauro and the senses. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal to register your concerns. These three lawmakers have backed legislation that caps the cost of health care, but each story gives them a chance to make their case.
A major medical event can be physically painful, but it shouldn’t be financially painful either. Speak and express yourself.
Trish Pearson is a Licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Certified Long Term Care Specialist. Contact her at 203-640-5969 or [email protected]