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Maybe COVID-19 Caused Us to Ignore Bumps and Aches That Matter

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The COVID-19 pandemic may have given little health problems a chance to take root in our bodies and turn into big problems, because of decreased use of preventive care and other routine care.

Health insurers talk about the possible impact of pandemic-related social distancing rules and self-isolation on 2022 health costs in initial proposed health insurance rate requests they have filed with the Connecticut Insurance Department.

The filings are for the individual major medical market and the fully insured small-group major medical market.

Eleven insurers have submitted 16 filings for plans that cover a total of about 222,700 people.

The Connecticut department said it will conduct actuarial reviews on each filing to determine whether the proposed request is justified. The department can approve, reject or change the proposed rates.

Members of the public can see the rate requests on the department website and use the site to submit comments.

The department expects to make final rulings on the proposals in September. Open enrollment for the 2022 coverage year is set to begin Nov. 1.

The Numbers

The insurers have proposed increasing individual rates an average of 8.6%. That’s up from 6.3% for this year. The range is 5.1% to 12.3%.

The average proposed small-group increase is 12.9%, with a range of 7.4% to 15.8%. The average is up from an average increase of 11.3% for this year.

The Thinking

Carriers gave three explanations for their proposed increases.

One is “trend,” or the underlying increase in health care costs. That factor includes increases in the cost of prescription drugs and demographics-driven increases in demand for medical services.

Another factor is legislation, such as new co-payment rules, and new standards for diabetes-related benefits.

A third factor is COVID-19.

Insurers say they expect see more claims, and more severe claims, because enrollees put off getting checkups and other care.

Carriers also expect to experience the effects of pent-up demand for care through the end of this year, with enrollees getting exams and procedures that had been postponed due to the pandemic.

The pandemic may also continue to lead to an increase in behavioral health disease, insurers say.

The Affordable Care Act Public Exchange

Access Health CT provides ACA public exchange services for individuals and small employers in Connecticut.

The Connecticut department said Anthem Inc. and ConnectiCare Benefits have filed rates for both individual and small group plans for the on-exchange market.

A ConnectiCare affiliate, ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc., plans to begin participating on the exchange in the individual market Jan. 1.

A Cigna unit began offering small-group exchange plans in Connecticut July 1.

(Photo: hxdbzxy/Shutterstock)