Rate hikes won't trigger public hearings in Connecticut

Health insurers in Connecticut can breathe a sigh of relief now that they won't be subjected to a public review process before increasing premium rates. Gov. Dannel Malloy vetoed legislation that would have required the state Insurance Department to hold symposiums on ratehike  requests exceeding 10 percent, calling it "unnecessary and expensive," reports the Hartford Courant.

In his veto letter, Malloy said the law wouldn't have reduced the premium costs, adding that state insurance regulators already do an adequate job regulating the industry. Malloy also said that the state's current review process, which requires insurers' rates to be actuarially sound, fully protects residents from excessive and discriminatory rate increases.

Further, the law could have led to decreased competition in the state insurance market because the additional burden may have led insurers to reduce the products they offer to Connecticut residents, notes the Courant. "Less competition in the Connecticut insurance market will increase the cost of health insurance for Connecticut residents," Malloy said.

Malloy also said the insurance department's website, which allows consumers to review all documents associated with a proposal to raise rates and submit comments regarding rate increases, provides "a far better and more cost-effective system to facilitate transparency in the rate review process than mandatory public symposiums."

The insurance industry applauded Malloy's veto since it opposed the public hearing proposal. "We felt pretty strongly, given the obvious and significant transition that's underway in healthcare, that this is hardly the time to revamp rate review, particularly in a way that didn't seem to be especially well thought out," Keith Stover, spokesperson for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans, told the Connecticut Mirror.

To learn more:
- see Gov. Malloy's veto letter (.pdf)
- see the Hartford Courant article on the industry response 
- read the Connecticut Mirror article on the veto