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Connecticut approves exchange plan prices

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Insurance Department has approved the rates for both individual and small group insurance plans that will be offered under the state’s new health insurance exchange, beginning this fall.

For the least expensive, “bronze level” individual plan, monthly base rates for premiums range from $215.17 with ConnectiCare Benefits to $245.45 with HealthyCT, a nonprofit plan.

The base rate for Anthem Health Plans Inc.’s lowest priced plan will be $236.59 a month.

In the small-group, Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange, the monthly base rate for bronze coverage will range from $271.91 with United Healthcare Insurance Co. to $298.05 with HealthyCT Inc. Anthem’s lowest priced plan costs $277.95.

Two carriers that originally had applied to participate in the exchange program in 2014 — Aetna and ConnectiCare — have withdrawn from the program.

The amount an individual or small employer actually spends out of pocket on an Access Health CT “qualified health plan” (QHP) will depend on a variety of factors, such as location in Connecticut and ability to qualify for subsidies.

The Connecticut department released the final QHP rates Monday. The rate filings were originally submitted in May. Open enrollment is set to begin Oct. 1.

In some cases, the department persuaded the insurers to lower their rates after putting the original proposals through an extensive actuarial review.

 ”This is good news,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT. “Our preliminary analysis indicates that many residents in Connecticut may actually see their insurance rates go down, while for those who may see increases, they will be far less than was predicted even just a few months ago.”

Francis G. Padilla, president of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, credited Access Health CT and the Connecticut department with trying to ensure that rates are affordable.

Given the subsidies that will be available under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), many people who’ve been unable to afford health insurance should now be able to get coverage, Padilla said.

Padilla said the subsidies are supposed to help ensure people’s health insurance premiums don’t cost more than 9.5 percent of their incomes. 

“People are waiting with baited breath,” she said. “They need it. They really need it.”

About 350,000 of Connecticut’s 3.5 million residents are now uninsured.

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