(WTNH) — It is your chance to speak out about double-digit rate hikes in your health insurance. Some of the state’s largest companies have filed the paperwork to charge you as much as 39 percent more. Hearings Wednesday and Thursday are your chances to let the Insurance Commissioner know how you feel about paying 20, 30 or close to 40 percent more for your health insurance.Related Content: Hearings planned on proposed health insurer rate increases
People who testified Wednesday morning say the hikes will make it too expensive to get health insurance, and too expensive to use it because of high deductibles and co-pays.
Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) told News8 that he is already hearing from people who are just devastated by the size of the rate increase.
“I cannot tell you the stories I’ve heard from people in receiving that letter in the mail that says, practically, your rates are increasing 26 percent, 39 percent.”
Gaye Hyre of West Haven is one of those people. “I got a letter saying that my premiums were going to go up 28.6%,” she testified.
Hyre is a cancer survivor and a customer of Anthem. The health insurance company has filed paperwork to increase its rates by an average of almost 27 percent, with some increases as high as almost 40 percent. Hyre was one of many at this hearing saying it’s just too much.
“At the end of all of this is a person and a patient, and every last one of us, at some point in our lives is going to be a patient,” Hyre said.
The state Insurance Commissioner is holding two days of hearings about the double-digit rate hikes. Today’s hearing was solely about Anthem, which insures more than 56 thousand people in Connecticut.Related Content: Connecticut insurance agency reviewing requested rate hikes
The company says costs have gone up in the couple years since the last big increase. A statement from Anthem Regional Vice President James Augur reads, in part: “Factors such as increased use of medical services and added costs of drugs and medical therapies put upward pressure on rates and underscore the work that needs to be done to continue to stabilize the exchanges.”
The exchanges are part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Federal funding for the exchanges is decreasing, forcing higher rates. Small business owners like Douglas Wade of Wade’s Dairy in Bridgeport say they were trying to help their employees with insurance, but can’t anymore.
“Come January, I can’t absorb another rate increase like this, and I know my employees, even those that can afford and deem it necessary to have insurance, they can’t use it,” Wade said.
They can’t use it because of the higher deductibles and co-pays for doctor visits. The Universal Health Care Foundation says that amounts to an expensive form of being uninsured.
“If your insurance, with your co-pays and your deductibles, cost-sharing, whatever, is so high, you’re not going to use i,” explained the Foundation’s Director of Program and Police, Lynne Ide.
Thursday morning, the hearings will cover ConnectiCare, Thursday afternoon is Aetna.Related Content: Sen. urges residents to attend hearings on proposed insurance rate hikes
If you want to come and speak or listen, the hearings are here at the Insurance Commissioner’s office at 153 Market Street, the corner of Market and Talcott, the back of the old G. Fox building.