Blumenthal second-guesses Insurance Dept.'s decision

Keith Loria Oct. 8, 2010, 12:13pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Tuesday that he believes regulators should reconsider planned rate hikes for insurance providers Aetna and Anthem.

Blumenthal said that the Insurance Department has failed to weigh all appropriate factors in approving the rate increases for Aetna and Anthem, specifically pointing out that the department should consider insurer expenses and profits, administrative costs, the impact on potential policyholders and medical trends since the last rate increase.

Blumenthal is running for U.S. Senate.

"I am deeply disappointed about rate hikes of up to 50 percent that the insurance department has approved for Aetna and Anthem," Blumenthal said in a letter to Insurance Commissioner Thomas R. Sullivan.

"For financially hard-pressed Connecticut residents struggling to make ends meet, these rate hikes will mean the cost of some premiums will skyrocket so high that families will no longer be able to afford them. I urge you to reconsider these rate hikes approved without detailed scrutiny and careful consideration of all the factors necessary to determine whether a rate is excessive."

In his letter, Blumenthal urged the department to reconsider what he considers to be unjust and unjustifiable rate increases, calling them "a slap in the face to struggling consumers and businesses. Aetna and Anthem must be held accountable. Profiteering at the expense of consumers must stop."

Both companies asked for and were awarded increases of 7 to 46 percent to meet new federal requirements that federal authorities and an independent insurance consulting firm say should only add one to two percent to premiums, which is in line with what other Connecticut insurers requested to provide similar services.

Anthem provided no documentation showing that policies in question were losing money or marginally profitable, necessitating premium increases, Blumenthal says.

"As a result of these shortcomings in the rate review, Connecticut's policyholders deserve reconsideration of the approval of these rate increases," Blumenthal wrote in his letter.

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