Through a well-functioning state-run health insurance marketplace and a generous Medicaid program, Connecticut has shown commitment to helping its residents obtain health insurance. In 2010, Connecticut was the first state to adopt Medicaid expansion, and it again expanded eligibility criteria for the program at the beginning of 2014.
As of July 2016, 753,413 people were covered by HUSKY (Medicaid) in Connecticut. This was a net reduction of about 7,300 people from a year earlier.
How Medicaid is structured in Connecticut
Connecticut’s Medicaid program is called HUSKY Health, and it is broken into several categories.
HUSKY A covers low-income children, parents and other caregivers, and pregnant women.
HUSKY B covers children with incomes too high for HUSKY A. HUSKY B is also called the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
HUSKY C covers individuals who are aged, blind or disabled and who qualify based on income and asset levels, and MED-Connect is Medicaid for employees with disabilities.
HUSKY D covers low-income adults who don’t have children.
In 2015, Arielle Levin Becker of the Connecticut Mirror published an excellent description of how the four parts of HUSKY work, who’s enrolled, and how much the programs cost.
Who qualifies for Medicaid in Connecticut?
As of June 2016, Connecticut’s eligibility standards are:
196 percent of FPL for children, ages 0-18
258 percent of FPL for pregnant women
155 percent of FPL for parents of dependent children (see more details below)
318 percent of FPL for children
See income and asset criteria for aged, blind and disabled beneficiaries.
138 percent of FPL for childless adults
How to apply
To apply for HUSKY A, B or D:
- Online at www.accesshealthct.com, under Get Health Coverage
- By mail: call 1-877-284-8759 to have an application mailed to you
- By phone at 1-855-805- 4325 (Access Health CT call center)
To apply for HUSKY C and Medicaid for Employees with Disabilities:
- Online at www.connect.ct.gov, under Apply for Benefits
- By mail: print an application in English or Spanish and mail it to DSS ConneCT Scanning Center, P.O. Box 1320, Manchester, Connecticut 06045-1320. For help completing the form, call 1-855-626-6632.
- For long-term care benefits, complete an application in English or Spanish and submit it to the Long-Term Care Application Center for your county.
New eligibility guidelines for parents
In 2014, childless adults became eligible for Medicaid coverage (HUSKY D) as a result of the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. The federal government is paying 100 percent of the costs for this newly-eligible population, although the state will eventually pay 10 percent of the cost by 2020. This program — Medicaid expansion under the ACA — is not changing.
But HUSKY A eligibility guidelines have changed for parents with dependent children. In an effort to trim costs, the state reduced the upper income limit for HUSKY A (only for parents) from 201 percent of the poverty level to 155 percent of the poverty level. For new enrollees, the change was effective August 1, 2015. For existing enrollees, the change became effective August 31, 2015 if they did not have earned income from a job. For those who did have earned income from a job, the new eligibility guidelines became effective August 1, 2016.
The state has noted that parents who were dropped from the HUSKY A rolls had access to subsidized coverage through Access Health CT, but advocates note that there are considerably higher out-of-pocket costs for private plans in the exchange than there are with Medicaid. The Connecticut Mirror reported that as of September 11, 2015, only 140 out of 800 people who had lost coverage at the end of August had enrolled in new coverage through Access Health CT.
In May 2016, Access Health CT, the state-run exchange, announced that they were partnering with other state agencies to reach out to people who were going to lose access to HUSKY A on August 1, in an effort to get them signed up for new coverage (including, in some cases, other “Medicaid-funded assistance”). About 14,000 people were slated to lose coverage as of August 1, and by mid-July, only about 26 percent of them had enrolled in plans through Access Health CT. The enrollment period triggered by loss of coverage continued through August and September, although there would be a gap in coverage for people who enrolled after the end of July.
A frontrunner in Medicaid expansion
Connecticut is one of 31 states and DC that have expanded Medicaid coverage to childless adults through an optional component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Connecticut took a two-step approach to expansion. In 2010, the state launched its HUSKY D program by transitioning very low-income adults from the State Administered General Assistance (SAGA) medical program into Medicaid. In 2014, it further expanded coverage for childless adults by raising the income limit to 138 percent of FPL, utilizing federal funding from the ACA to increase the eligibility threshold.
In January 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that about 286,000 people in Connecticut were uninsured. Kaiser also estimated that, with Medicaid expansion, about 38 percent of the 286,000 would qualify for either Medicaid or CHIP. In an October 2014 press release, Access Health CT (the state-run marketplace) estimated that 147,000 Connecticut residents were still uninsured. Medicaid enrollment through Access Health CT was 138,908 during the first open enrollment period, but grew substantially to 277,336 during the second open enrollment period.
Medicaid funds to pay for student health insurance?
On June 19, 2015, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed S.B. 864, which requires a study of the effectiveness of having the state Medicaid program pay premiums for University of Connecticut sponsored health insurance plans if the students would otherwise qualify for Medicaid. During the study period, the legislation also prohibited those students from opting out of the university-sponsored health plan in order to qualify for Medicaid. The study period began July 1, 2015, and lawmakers were briefed on the results of the study by January 1, 2016.
Madelynn von Baeyer, a Graduate Assistant at UCONN, opposed S.B. 864 and pointed out that restricting access to Medicaid for students who qualify based on income could result in limited access to healthcare. She stated that the average cost of UCONN-sponsored health insurance for graduate assistants and their families was currently $1,822 per year – about ten percent of their salaries (graduate assistants with no dependents on the health plan pay $200 a year for coverage through the school). Medicaid has no premiums for those who qualify, but S.B. 864 would utilize Medicaid funds to pay the premiums for the student health plan, making the coverage as affordable as Medicaid.
History of Medicaid in Connecticut
Connecticut implemented Medicaid in July 1966, one year after the program was enacted at the federal level through Title XIX of the Social Security Act.
Unlike many states that are increasingly using Medicaid managed care to provide health coverage to low-income beneficiaries, Connecticut dropped its managed care contracts in 2012. Ellen Andrews, executive director of the Connecticut Health Policy Project, credits the change with increasing access for beneficiaries, improving quality, and reducing costs.