connecticut guide to health insurance

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Connecticut health insurance exchange

More than 11,600 new CT enrollees

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Access Health CT has a goal of enrolling an additional 70,000 people in health coverage for 2015 on top of the enrollment gains it made in 2014. According to a CT Mirror article, Access Health CT enrolled 256,666 residents in health coverage in 2014. Of that number, about 139,000 were previously uninsured, and about 80 percent enrolled in Medicaid. As of Nov. 20, Access Health CT had signed up 11,604 new enrollees for 2015 coverage.

The 2015 open enrollment period runs Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. If you purchase coverage by the 15th of the month and pay your premium, your coverage is effective the first day of the following month.

Get or stay covered for 2015

Connecticut residents have many options for enrolling or re-enrolling in health insurance. Consumers can enroll online, through the call center, or with help from an in-person assister or insurance broker. In-person assistance is available through storefront offices in New Britain and New Haven, community health centers or hospitals, and 12 community enrollment partner sites.

Access Health CT will allow auto-renewals for nearly 44,000 people; they were notified in October 2014. Auto-renewal is NOT available to people who received premium subsidies in 2014 or if the plan they selected in 2014 is discontinued or significantly altered for 2015. Those who qualify for auto-renewal are free to make changes for 2015; the auto-renewal will only happen if they do not take action to enroll in a new plan.

Access Health has a smaller scale outreach program to support 2015 open enrollment. The program includes 40 outreach workers, half on staff and half in partner agencies, and a much smaller budget. For 2014, 239 in-person assisters were available. Access Health officials say the new approach is appropriately targeted, citing enrollment data that shows less than 10 percent of enrollees signed up through in-person assistance and that just 40 of the in-person assisters handled the majority of those enrollments. However, critics maintain that state residents who are still uninsured are most likely to need one-on-one support to get signed up.

2015 premiums

Regulators in Connecticut pushed back on the 2015 rates proposed by insurers. Connecticare and Anthem both requested increases of more than 10, which regulators reduced to 3.1 percent or less. HealthyCT received approval to reduce its rates an average of 8.5 percent.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2015 rates for individual coverage in Connecticut — both on and off the exchange, increased about 2 percent on average.

Insurer joins Access Health CT

Four health insurers are offering individual and family plans through Access Health CT for 2015. Anthem, Connecticare and HealthyCT are returning from 2014, and UnitedHealthCare joined the exchange for 2015.

Penalties going up for those not insured

The penalty for not having health insurance will increase for 2015. The fee is the greater of 1) two percent of yearly household income or 2) up to $975 for families ($325 per adult and $162.50 per child under 18).

The fee will be assessed when you file your 2015 taxes in 2016.

Learn more about the fee and who is excluded at HealthCare.gov.

History of Connecticut’s exchange

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 premiums, Connecticut legislators revisited the issue during the 2014 session. SB-11 would have allowed Access Health CT to negotiate with insurers for plans sold in 2016. However, the bill did not pass. Connecticut’s Fairfield County made the Kaiser Family Foundation list of the top 10 most expensive health insurance markets in 2014.

Access Health CT has been one of the nation’s most successful marketplaces. Signs of that success include:

  1. Connecticut’s uninsured rate dropped by 50 percent: from 7.9 percent in 2012 to 4 percent in 2014.
  2. Connecticut launched a consulting business through which other states can license Access Health CT’s technology or pay Access Health CT to manage various marketplace functions. According to an article in the CT Mirror, nine states have expressed interest.
  3. Access Health CT’s CEO, Kevin Counihan, was tapped to take over as the CEO of the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov. With Counihan’s departure in early September, Jim Wadleigh is serving as interim president and CEO of Access Health CT.

Connecticut health insurance exchange links

Access Health CT
860-757-5300

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