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Connecticut health insurance

Two insurers are offering 2019 coverage through Access Health CT. Open enrollment has been extended through January 15, 2019.

Health insurance in Connecticut

Connecticut’s health marketplace

Access Health CT is a successful state-run exchange that has dodged many of the technology problems that plagued other exchanges over the first few years of operation. Open enrollment for 2019 coverage in Connecticut started November 1 and will continue through January 15, 2019. (It was originally slated to end December 15, but the exchange announced a last-minute extension just hours before the deadline.)

  • Enrollments through Dec. 15 will have a Jan. 1 effective date.
  • Enrollments between Dec. 16 and Jan. 15 will have a Feb. 1. effective date.

Two carriers – Anthem and ConnectiCare – offered 2018 coverage through Access Health CT in 2017 and both have remained in the exchange with 2019 plans. The average rate increase for 2019 individual market plans is 2.72 percent.

Enrollment for 2018 coverage through Access Health CT reached 113,134 people in 2017 – an increase of about 1.4 percent over the previous year, despite a shorter enrollment period and GOP efforts to sabotage the ACA throughout 2017.

Read more about Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace.

Medicaid expansion in Connecticut

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 2018, 844,165 people were covered by HUSKY Health – Connecticut’s Medicaid program.

Read more about Medicaid and the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in Connecticut.

Short-term health insurance in Connecticut

In 2018, the Trump Administration relaxed the rules on the duration of short-term health insurance plans, but the rules allow states to continue to impose more strict restrictions, and Connecticut does.

State rules in place before the new federal rule remain in effect even now that the federal rules have been relaxed. That means short-term plans in Connecticut cannot have durations in excess of six months, and cannot be renewable.

Read more about short-term health insurance in Connecticut.

How Obamacare is helping Connecticut’s uninsured

Connecticut opted for a state-based exchange, Access Health CT, and expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. There are conflicting data in terms of the uninsured rate in Connecticut, but by any metric, the rate has dropped considerably since the ACA was implemented. In 2017, Connecticut’s uninsured rate was among the lowest in the country, though the number of uninsured crept back up last year.

Connecticut and the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act was unanimously supported by Connecticut’s delegation to the U.S. Congress. Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Democrat, and Joseph Lieberman, an Independent, 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. Esty and the four representatives who voted in support of the ACA were re-elected in 2014.

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. Malloy was re-elected in 2014.

The state 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. Access Health CT’s CEO, Kevin Counihan, was named CEO of Healthcare.gov in August 2014.

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 did not immediately cancel coverage for existing members. They noted that they were encouraging members to transition to an exchange plan, and would reconsider ending the program if and when membership drops significantly.

Ultimately, HRA plans remained in effect throughout 2017, but are being terminated at the end of 2017. All remaining HRA members need to switch to new plans for 2018. Open enrollment in the Connecticut exchange runs through December 22, but people losing coverage under HRA plans will have a special enrollment period that continues until March 1, due to loss of coverage. However, they need to enroll in a new plan by December 31 in order to have coverage effective January 1, 2018. If they enroll after that, they’ll have a gap in coverage of at least one month.

Medicare enrollment in Connecticut

Connecticut Medicare enrollment reached 630,333 in 2015 – about 18 percent of the state’s population compared with 17 percent of people enrolled in Medicare nationwide. About 87 percent of Connecticut Medicare recipients qualify based on age alone, while 13 percent are covered as the result of a disability.

In terms of overall spending, Connecticut ranks 26th with $6.2 billion per year. Medicare pays about $9,151 annually per Connecticut enrollee.

Connecticut Medicare recipients who want additional benefits beyond what is offered through traditional Medicare can select a Medicare Advantage plan instead, and nearly 25 percent make this choice. Thirty-one percent of Medicare beneficiaries nationwide are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare recipients can also gain stand-alone prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D plans. In Connecticut, about half of all Medicare enrollees have a stand-alone Rx plan. Forty-five percent of all Medicare enrollees have Medicare Part D plans.

Helpful Connecticut health insurance links

CT health reform at the state level

Here is what’s happening legislatively with healthcare reform in Connecticut at the state level: