Debra Dauphinais, owner of Bicycles East, a bicycle shop in Glastonbury, said she hasn’t been able to find a health insurance plan that she can afford for her four employees.
She said she’s tried both private plans and plans on Access-HealthCT, the state insurance exchange. She’s switched between plans. Nothing is affordable.
“People are paying, or have paid up to $10,000 a year in premiums and still have a $6,500 a year deductible,” said Dauphinais. “So after people pay their premiums, they don’t actually obtain healthcare because they don’t have the money left to do that.”
Dauphinais said her employees tell her that they don’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford it. And that extends to her as well. Dauphinais said that despite she and her husband together paying over $18,000 in premiums, she still had a $1,300 deductible. Knowing the cost of going to the doctor, she lived with leg pain for eight months rather than get an appointment.
“Basically, we paid $18,000 for no health care,” said Dauphinais.
Dauphinais was part of a group standing outside the legislative office building in Hartford last month in protest of proposed rate increases from the state’s largest insurers.
Anthem is requesting a 10 percent rate increase for individuals and 15 percent increase for small businesses. Together, the company covers about 61,500 people across the state.
ConnectiCare, which covers about 78,000 people both on and off the exchange, is asking for rate increases of between 12.7 percent and 17.5 percent. Cigna, which covers about 20,600 people, is asking for a 23 percent rate increase.
During a hearing in Hartford in August, Mark Meador, the president of ConnectiCare, said the cost of hospital care and prescription drugs was a major factor in their request. The state has tried to cap hospital cost increases at three percent this year, but Meador said that in contract negotiations with hospitals, some of the hospital systems were asking for three times that amount.
Director of the Office of Healthcare Strategy Dierdre Gifford noted that the amount of money that insurers paid the different hospitals in Connecticut varied widely – the lowest-paid hospital in Connecticut receives 170 percent what Medicaid pays, and the highest-paid hospital receives 310 percent what Medicaid pays.
According to data presented by the Office of Healthcare Strategy, healthcare premiums cost families an average of about $24,000 in 2021. By comparison, the cost of childcare was $16,000.
Data showed that Connecticut has the 5th highest healthcare costs in the country, and that between 2020 and 2021, Connecticut’s commercial healthcare costs increased nearly 19 percent, despite the state’s goal to cap increases at 3.4 percent. In comparison, Rhode Island’s healthcare costs increased 9.7 percent over the same period.
The Department of Insurance is expected to make its final determination on the rates for 2024 in September.