Earlier this year Anthem Blue Cross of CT asked the Connecticut Insurance Department for rate increases of up to 32 percent on their individual medical insurance products. These rate increases were to go into effect in October of 2009.
Anthem got a lot of negative press because of the 32 percent they asked for on their Lumenous policy series (product line). They had a rate reduction on that policy series in January 2009. Had they not done this, the percentage of rate increase requested later in the year would have been less and perhaps made less completing headlines.
None of the rate increase news stories I read mentioned the rate reduction and unfortunately this may make Anthem think twice about lowering their rates in the future.
On Thursday August 6, 2009, the Insurance Department approved rate increases of a lower amount. Different policy series will have different increases. They will range between 13 percent and 20 percent.
Anthem will not get any increase until three months after the date they requested. Anthem has traditionally raised the rates (and very occasionally lowered the rates) on their individual products on January first of each year. The Insurance Department has forced them to maintain that tradition at least for a little while longer.
What does this mean?
- If you are shopping for individual health insurance in Connecticut?
- If you currently have an individual health insurance policy with Anthem?
If You Are Shopping For Individual Health Insurance
Although Anthem got a lot of press for this recent rate increase request, they are not alone; health insurance companies request increases with some regularity. You can expect a rate increase from your individual health insurance company approximately once per year. This is true for not just Anthem, but also true for the other companies offering health insurance to individuals and families in Connecticut.
This means that it is all but guaranteed that Aetna, Connecticare, Celtic, Cigna, Golden Rule (United Healthcare), Fortis (Assurant) and John Alden (Assurant) will all have rate increases within the next 12 months or so. Since they are all “swimming in the same pool” they are all affected by the same increases in healthcare costs and will often have similar rate increases.
You can expect increases from the Connecticare in January and from the other companies approximately once per year as well, but not necessarily in January. If you are shopping for coverage you should look at the current rates when making comparisons.
When new rates are published, you may want to switch at that time. With an individual health insurance policy, you are not locked in for a year. It is basically a month to month commitment on your part. You can switch to another company when it suits you, providing you meet their underwriting criteria.
If You Have Your Health Insurance with Anthem Now
Since the actual rate increases haven’t been announced for each policy series, the information you need to make a comparision between the different policies isn’t available yet. Anthem and Connecticare will have rate increases in January. You should at least wait until those rates are announced before making a decision. You should be able to get those rates from this website or by calling us around Thanksgiving.
If you want to get on our email list and get the current health rates sent to now and the new rates sent to you when they are available, you can request health insurance quotes from us online or by phone at 1-203-374-3645 or (from a Connecticut phone only) 1-800-467-8726.
Unfortunately rate increases from Anthem Blue Cross and the other health insurance companies come very regularly. We are committed to doing our best to help you get the best policy for your needs. We work with all the private companies offering Connecticut residents individual and family policies and can help you chose the right policy today and switch to the right one for tomorrow when rates and conditions change.