Access Health CT has been one of the nation’s most successful marketplaces. Signs of that success include:
- Connecticut’s uninsured rate dropped by 50 percent: from 7.9 percent in 2012 to 4 percent in 2014.
- 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.
- 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. Also providing leadership to the exchange is Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. In addition to her role in the state’s executive branch, she chairs the Access Health CT board of directors. Wyman told the Danbury News-Times that the ”unbelievable staff” at Access Health will keep the exchange running successfully despite Counihan’s move to the federal level.
What to expect for the second open enrollment
Open enrollment for 2015 coverage through the marketplace begins Nov. 15. Consumers have many options for enrolling or re-enrolling in coverage: online, call center, in-person assister, insurance broker, storefront offices in New Britain and New Haven, and community health centers or hospitals.
Access Health CT will allow auto-renewals for some consumers. 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 CT plans to notify consumers by mail in October and November to tell them whether they qualify for auto-renewal.
Access Health has a smaller scale outreach program planned for 2015 open enrollment. The draft plan calls for 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 this year’s 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.
Access Health CT 2014 enrollment
The final 2014 enrollment figures for Access Health CT show that 79,192 people enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs) during 2014 open enrollment. At 36.7 percent, Connecticut was seventh in the percentage of eligible people who enrolled in a health plan. In addition to those enrolling in QHPs, 138,908 people qualified for Medicaid (called Husky in Connecticut) or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Enrollment continues to grow through special enrollment periods and through Medicaid and CHIP enrollment, which is open year-round. As of early August, enrollment through Access Health CT was 256,666.
Outlook for 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, rates for individual coverage in Connecticut — both on and off the exchange, will increase about 2 percent on average.
Insurer joins Access Health CT
Four health insurers will offer individual and family plans through Access Health CT for 2015. Anthem, Connecticare and HealthyCT are returning from 2014, and UnitedHealthCare is new to the exchange for 2015.
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 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