Connecticut health insurance exchange
Connecticut health insurance exchange
By Carla Anderson
July 24, 2014
Obamacare enrollment in Connecticut — through the state-run marketplace, Access Health CT— has ended for 2014. People who get married or divorced, change jobs, have a child or experience another qualifying event may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Enrollment for Medicaid (called Husky in Connecticut), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and through the small business marketplace, also called the SHOP, continues throughout the year. Individuals who don’t have health insurance that provides “minimum essential coverage” may have to pay a penalty: $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater.
Open enrollment for 2015 coverage through the marketplace begins Nov. 15.
The final enrollment figures for Access Health CT show that 79,192 people enrolled in private health plans, and nearly 138,908 qualified for Medicaid.
Seventy-eight percent of Connecticut residents selecting a private health plan qualified for financial assistance, compared to 85 percent nationally. Twenty-four percent of enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34. Sixteen percent of Connecticut residents selected a bronze plan (20 percent nationally), 63 percent selected a silver plan (65 percent nationally), 18 percent selected a gold plan (9 percent nationally), 0 percent selected a platinum plan (5 percent nationally) and 2 percent selected a catastrophic plan (2 percent nationally).
Access Health CT has been one of the nation’s most successful marketplaces. While HealthCare.gov and several state-run have experienced various degrees of technical problems, Access Health CT has operated well. In fact, Connecticut is launching a consulting business through which other states can license Access Health CT’s technology or pay Access Health CT to manage various marketplace functions.
However, Access Health CT suffered a data breach in early June. The breach was traced to an employee of Maximus, the vendor that runs Access Health CT’s call center. The employee left a backpack with handwritten notes outside a deli near the call center. The note included names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers. The general counsel for Access Health CT told board members the breach was the mistake of an individual, not an IT failure or malicious act. Data for 395 people were compromised through the breach, and Access Health CT offered free credit monitoring, fraud resolution, identity theft insurance and security freezes of credit reports to those affected.
Another area of concern for Access Health CT is low Latino enrollment. An official with the state’s Hispanic Health Council said the marketplace’s heavy reliance on online enrollment is problematic. Latinos lag the general population in Internet use and home broadband access, and many prefer to sign up for health insurance in person. For those who were willing to shop online, a Spanish-language version of the Access Health CT website didn’t launch until late February. Cost is also a barrier. Community groups working with low and middle-income Hispanic families report that many view health insurance as too expensive — even after subsidies. Yet another issue is fear of deportation. In families where some members are undocumented, people fear information they provide during the enrollment process will be shared with immigration officials.
Connecticut was one of the early adopters in implementing a health insurance marketplace. Gov. Malloy signed legislation in 2011 to create the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, which was rebranded as Access Health CT in February 2013. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved Connecticut’s blueprint for a state-run exchange in December 2012.
Access Health CT describes itself as an active purchaser, but did not negotiate 2014 rates with health plans. Prompted by concerns over high premium costs, Connecticut legislators revisited the issue during the 2014 session. SB-11 would allow, but not require, Access Health CT to negotiate with insurers for plans sold in 2016. Connecticut’s Fairfield County made the Kaiser Family Foundation list of the top 10 most expensive health insurance markets.
Connecticut health insurance exchange links
Access Health CT
State Exchange Profile: Connecticut
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Connecticut’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Connecticut Health Reform Central
Information about exchange planning and development