Health insurance in Connecticut
- Connecticut enrolls through a state-run health insurance exchange.
- Open enrollment for 2020 plans is scheduled to run from November 1 to December 15, 2019 (but in previous years, Access Health CT extended open enrollment).
- Two insurers – Anthem and Connecticare Benefits – offers 2019 coverage through the Connecticut exchange, and will continue to do so in 2020.
- The average individual market premium increase for 2019 was 2.72%; for 2020, it’s 3.65%. In the small group market, it’s 9.2%.
- About 111,000 enrolled in 2019 coverage through the Connecticut exchange.
- Connecticut was the first state to adopt the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.
- Connecticut limits short-term plan duration to six months, with no renewals, and also requires them to cover essential health benefits as of 2019. As a result, there are no insurers offering short-term plans in the state.
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 2020 coverage in Connecticut will run from November 1 to December 15, 2019, with all plans effective January 1, 2020 (last year, for 2019 enrollment, Access Health CT announced a last-minute extension just hours before the deadline, but for 2020 enrollments, applicants should assume the deadline is December 15).
Two carriers – Anthem and ConnectiCare – offered 2019 coverage through Access Health CT and both will continue to do so in 2020. The average rate increase for 2019 individual market plans was 2.72 percent, and for 2020, it’s 3.65 percent, including plans sold on- and off-exchange (for small group plans, nearly all of which are only sold off-exchange, it’s 9.2 percent).
Enrollment for 2019 coverage through Access Health CT reached 111,066 people during open enrollment. Enrollment in the state’s exchange has hovered between roughly 110,000 and 116,000 for the last five years.
As of 2019, pregnancy is a qualifying event that allows a woman to enroll in ACA-compliant individual market coverage in Connecticut.
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 June 2019, 858,543 people were covered by HUSKY Health – Connecticut’s Medicaid and CHIP 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 in 2018. According to official US Census data, the uninsured rate in Connecticut dropped from 9.4 percent in 2013 to 5.3 percent in 2018.
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 were terminated at the end of 2017. All remaining HRA members needed to switch to new plans for 2018.
Medicare enrollment in Connecticut
Connecticut Medicare enrollment reached 678,760 as of mid-2019. About 87 percent of Connecticut Medicare recipients qualify based on age alone (2016 numbers), while 13 percent were covered as the result of a disability.
In terms of overall Medicare spending, Connecticut was a little bit higher than the national average, paying about $9,976 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. As of mid-2019, there were 284,005 Connecticut residents with private Medicare coverage — nearly 42 percent of the state’s Medicare population.
Medicare recipients can also gain stand-alone prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D plans. In Connecticut, 539,945 residents had Medicare Prescription Drug coverage in 2018. About 291,000 of those had a stand-alone Rx plan, and about 249,000 had Part D coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan.
Helpful Connecticut health insurance links
- Connecticut CHOICES Program – free counseling for Medicare beneficiaries
- Connecticut Health Reinsurance Association
- Connecticut Health Reinsurance Association
- Connecticut Insurance Department
- Husky Healthcare
CT health reform at the state level
Here is what’s happening legislatively with healthcare reform in Connecticut at the state level: