Public health is an important factor in overall quality of life, and by many measures, public health is a positive for the state of Connecticut. Your perception of a state may also be influenced by prevailing attitudes toward health care reform and access to health care.
If you are a Connecticut resident or considering a move to The Constitution State, here is a brief summary of health rankings and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in the state.
Connecticut health ratings
An evaluation puts Connecticut among the top ten in terms of public health. Connecticut is sixth in overall health according to the Scorecard on State Health System Performance 2014, ranking among the top 25 percent in four: access, prevention and treatment, healthy lives, and equity. See Connecticut’s Scorecard for measures in each category and how Connecticut scored.
Connecticut is ranked seventh in America’s Health Rankings from 2013, which is unchanged from its 2012 ranking. Connecticut ranked highly for its low smoking rates, low incidence of infectious disease, and high immunization rates. Those positives are tempered by a low high school graduation rate, a moderate rate of binge drinking, and a large disparity in health status by completed level of education.
For additional health indicators, see Key Health Data About Connecticut from the 2014 edition of Trust for America’s Health.
Finally, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin publish county-by-county health rankings. See data for Connecticut.
Connecticut and the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act was unanimously support by Connecticut’s delegation to the U.S. Congress. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D) and Joseph Lieberman (I) both voted to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010 as did all five of Connecticut’s Democratic representatives.
Both senators have since left office, with Dodd replaced by Richard Blumenthal and Lieberman replaced by Chris Murphy. Both Blumenthal and Murphy are Democrats and supportive of the ACA.
Murphy previously represented Connecticut’s 5th District. When he moved to the Senate, Elizabeth Esty – a Democrat who supports the ACA – was elected to the seat. All other representatives who voted in support of the ACA remain in office.
At the state level, Gov. Daniel Malloy supports the ACA. State lawmakers passed legislation authorizing a state-run insurance marketplace. Malloy signed the bill into law on July 1, 2011. The marketplace was named Access Health CT in December 2012. Access Health CT has been one of the country’s most successful marketplaces, with few technical problems and robust enrollment.
How the ACA is helping CT’s uninsured
Sixty-three percent of Connecticut’s uninsured residents are eligible for either Medicaid or for subsidies to purchase private coverage through the insurance marketplace, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. About 38 percent of Connecticut’s 286,000 uninsured residents qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), given the state’s decision to expand Medicaid.
Connecticut enrollment in QHPs
Early in the 2014 ACA open enrollment period, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated the market size for Access Health Ct at 216,000. Ultimately, 79,192 people, or 36.7 percent of the potential market, enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs). Connecticut ranked seventh for percent of the potential market that enrolled during the first year of marketplace operations.
Anthem, ConnectiCare, and HealthyCT sold medical insurance policies through Access Health CT for the 2014 plan year. HealthyCT is a new insurer, established through the ACA’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) Program. The CO-OP program offered loans for the creation of consumer-friendly, nonprofit insurers to increase competition in the individual and small-group markets. HealthyCT received a $79.6 million loan, and was one of 23 CO-OPs established across the U.S.
Connecticut had generous Medicaid benefits prior to the ACA, and it continued that tradition by electing to implement Medicaid expansion under the ACA.
Enrollment in Medicaid continues throughout the year. Accordingly, enrollment totals vary from month to month. Even so, enrollment totals during the ACA’s 2014 open enrollment period were captured. In Connecticut, 79,192 state residents were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during 2014 open enrollment.
Learn about Connecticut health care programs for low-income and disabled individual as well as others with specific needs.
Does Connecticut have a high-risk pool?
Prior to the reforms the ACA brought to the individual health insurance market, coverage was underwritten in nearly every state, including Connecticut. That left people with pre-existing conditions often unable to purchase a plan at all, or only eligible for coverage that excluded pre-existing conditions or charged premiums significantly higher than the standard rates.
The Connecticut Health Reinsurance Association (HRA) was created in 1976 to give people an alternative if they were ineligible to purchase individual health insurance because of their medical history. (Only Minnesota has a high risk pool as old as Connecticut’s.)
As of January 2014, all new major medical policies in the individual market are guaranteed issue, thanks to the ACA. This means that there is no longer a need for high risk pools the way there was in the past. Connecticut’s HRA board voted to discontinue new member enrollment at the end of 2013, but they are not yet cancelling coverage for existing members. They are encouraging members to transition to an exchange plan, and will reconsider ending the program if and when membership drops significantly.
CT health reform at the state level
Here’s what’s happening legislatively with healthcare reform in Connecticut at the state level: