By Carla Anderson
February 21, 2014
Access Health CT officials announced that 121,983 people have obtained health insurance coverage through the state marketplace as of Feb. 10. More than 50,000 people enrolled in private health plans, and more than 71,000 qualified for Medicaid. Nearly 49,000 of those qualifying for Medicaid did so under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the program. Access Health CT has surpassed its goal of enrolling 100,000 by March 31.
Seventy-two percent of Connecticut residents selecting a private health plan qualified for financial assistance, compared to 82 percent nationally according to the Feb. 12 enrollment report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Sixteen percent of Connecticut residents who enrolled in a private plan selected a bronze plan (19 percent nationally), 58 percent selected a silver plan (62 percent nationally), 24 percent selected a gold plan (12 percent nationally), less than 1 percent selected a platinum plan (7 percent nationally) and 2 percent selected a catastrophic plan (1 percent nationally).
Enrollment for private insurance in 2014 continues through March 31. Policies purchased by the 15th of the month will be effective the first day of the following month. Individuals who remain uninsured after March may face a tax penalty of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater. Enrollment for Medicaid or CHIP continues throughout the year.
Access Health CT has been one of the most successful marketplace launches. However, Kevin Counihan, president and CEO of Access Health CT, believes a number of improvements are necessary. One is the launch of a Spanish-language version of the website, which is scheduled to be available by February. Another is increased staffing at the call center to reduce wait times and the percentage of people who hang up before getting through to a representative.
Connecticut was one of the early adopters in implementing a health insurance exchange – or 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 announced that it will not negotiate rates with health plans — at least for 2014. Prompted by concerns over high premium costs, Connecticut legislators are again debating the issue. SB-11 would direct Access Health CT to negotiate with insurers, presumably for the 2015 plan year. Connecticut’s Fairfield County made the Kaiser Family Foundation list of the top 10 most expensive health insurance markets.
Anthem, ConnectiCare, and HealthyCT (a new, nonprofit co-op plan) offer individual medical plans on the Connecticut exchange. According to a report released by HHS, the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Connecticut is $340 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
According to HHS, more than 240,000 Connecticut residents are uninsured and eligible for coverage through the marketplace.
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
Let your Connecticut governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Connecticut Governor M. Daniel Malloy