- More than 712,000 residents are enrolled in Medicare in Connecticut.
- More than half of Connecticut Medicare beneficiaries have Medicare Advantage plans.
- All counties in Connecticut have at least 44 Medicare Advantage plans available for 2023; some areas have as many as 58.
- 13 insurers offer Medigap plans in Connecticut; all plans are guaranteed-issue and community-rated at all times. Connecticut requires Medigap insurers to offer at least Plan A (and Plans B and C if the insurers sell them) to beneficiaries under age 65.
- There are 24 stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription plans available in Connecticut for 2023, with premiums that range from about $7 to $127 per month. About 40 percent of Connecticut Medicare beneficiaries have stand-alone Medicare Part D plans.
Medicare enrollment in Connecticut
As of mid-2022, Medicare enrollment in Connecticut stood at 712,549 people, amounting to about 20% of the state’s population. As is the case nationwide, Medicare enrollment in Connecticut is comprised mostly of people who are eligible due to their age (i.e., being at least 65).
But younger Americans gain Medicare eligibility after they have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months, or have ALS or end-stage renal disease. In Connecticut, 10.5% of beneficiaries are eligible due to disability rather than age (nationwide, it’s about 12%).
Medicare beneficiaries can choose from among several options to access Medicare coverage. The first choice is between Medicare Advantage, where an individual enrolls with a private health plan that is under contract with the federal government to provide Medicare coverage, or Original Medicare, where benefits are paid directly by the federal government. Medicare beneficiaries also have options around Medigap policies and Medicare Part D (prescription drug) coverage.
Original Medicare includes Part A (also called hospital insurance, which helps pay for inpatient stays at a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or hospice center) and Part B (also called medical insurance, which helps pay for outpatient care like a doctor appointment or a preventive healthcare service, such as most vaccinations). Medicare Advantage plans bundle Parts A and B under a single monthly premium and often include other services like prescription drugs and vision coverage.
Private Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare. There are pros and cons to either option, and the right solution is different for each person.
Medicare Advantage in Connecticut
Connecticut’s Medicare Advantage market is particularly robust, with at least 44 plan options available throughout the state for 2023 coverage. The service areas for a particular insurance company or plan vary by county; some areas of Connecticut have as many as 58 Advantage plans available for 2023.
Nationwide, 34% of all Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans as of 2018, although it varied from a low of 1% in Alaska to a high of 56% in Minnesota. Medicare Advantage enrollment in Connecticut was right on par with the national average, however, with 34% of the state’s Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans at that point.
By mid-2022, there were 368,276 Connecticut residents with private Medicare coverage, amounting to nearly 52% of the state’s Medicare population. A similar trend has been happening nationwide, with increasing Medicare Advantage enrollment every year since 2004, although nationwide, more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries still have Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage growth in Connecticut has been particularly robust, with more than half the state’s Medicare beneficiaries now covered by Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare’s annual election period/open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7 each year) allows Medicare beneficiaries the chance to change between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare (and add, drop, or switch to a different Medicare Part D prescription plan). And people who are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage also have the option to update their Medicare Advantage plan selection or switch to accessing benefits under Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period, which runs from January 1 to March 31.
Medigap in Connecticut
Original Medicare does not limit out-of-pocket costs, so most enrollees maintain some form of supplemental coverage. Nationwide, more than half of Original Medicare beneficiaries get their supplemental coverage through an employer-sponsored plan or Medicaid. But for those who don’t, Medigap plans (also known as Medicare supplement plans, or MedSupp) will pay some or all of the out-of-pocket costs they would otherwise have to pay if they had only Original Medicare.
There are 13 insurers that offer Medigap plans in Connecticut. And according to an AHIP analysis, 153,900 Connecticut residents had Medigap coverage as of 2020.
Although Medigap plans are sold by private insurers, the plans are standardized under federal rules, with ten different plan designs (differentiated by letters, A through N). The benefits offered by a particular plan (Plan G, Plan K, etc.) are the same regardless of which insurer sells the plan.
Prices vary from one insurer to another, but Connecticut law (Chapter 700c, Section 38a-473) requires insurers to use community rating: rates cannot vary based on age, gender, or health status.
Unlike other private Medicare coverage (Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, which cover prescription drugs), federal rules do not grant an annual open enrollment window for Medigap plans. Instead, federal rules provide a one-time six-month window when Medigap coverage is guaranteed-issue, starting when a person is at least 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B. But consumer protections are much stronger in Connecticut: All Medigap plans in Connecticut are sold on a guaranteed-issue basis at all times, and with community rating. So Connecticut residents have the option to switch from one Medigap plan to another, regardless of their health.
People who aren’t yet 65 can enroll in Medicare if they’re disabled and have been receiving disability benefits for at least two years (the 24-month wait does not apply if they have ALS or end-stage renal disease), and almost 11% of Connecticut Medicare beneficiaries are under age 65. Federal rules do not guarantee access to Medigap plans for people who are under 65, but the majority of the states — including Connecticut — have implemented rules to ensure that disabled Medicare beneficiaries have at least some access to Medigap plans.
Connecticut law (Chapter 700c, Section 38a-495c) requires Medigap insurers that offer Plans A, B, and/or C to offer those plans to disabled beneficiaries under age 65. This page shows which plans each insurer offers, and which plans they offer to beneficiaries under age 65; for the majority of insurers, it’s just Plan A.
Connecticut Medicare Part D
Original Medicare does not provide coverage for outpatient prescription drugs. This gap in coverage was addressed under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
More than half of Original Medicare beneficiaries nationwide have supplemental coverage via an employer-sponsored plan (from a current or former employer or spouse’s employer), and these plans often include prescription coverage. Medicare beneficiaries who do not have drug coverage through an employer-sponsored plan can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan to get coverage for prescriptions (beneficiaries who are dual-eligible for Medicare and Medicaid also get their drug coverage through Part D, rather than through Medicaid).
Medicare Part D enrollment is available via stand-alone plans (prescription drug plans — PDPs) or via integrated Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans (MAPDs).
There are 24 stand-alone Medicare Part D plans available in Connecticut for 2021 coverage, with premiums that range from about $7 to $127/month.
More than 585,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut had Part D coverage as of mid-2022. As of late 2020, Part D coverage in Connecticut was split nearly equally between stand-alone Part D plans (PDPs) and Medicare Advantage plans with integrated Part D coverage (MA-PDs).
But by mid-2022, the balance had tipped significantly in favor of MA-PDs. At that point, 348,500 Connecticut Medicare beneficiaries had Part D coverage via MA-PDs, while just 236,771 had stand-alone PDP coverage. Stand-alone Medicare Part D enrollment has been decreasing in Connecticut (as has been the case in many states), while enrollment in Part D coverage integrated with Medicare Advantage plans has been increasing. This is due to the increase in the percentage of Medicare beneficiaries — in Connecticut and nationwide — who are choosing Medicare Advantage plans.
How does Medicaid provide financial assistance to Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut?
Many Medicare beneficiaries receive financial assistance through Medicaid with the cost of Medicare premiums, prescription drug expenses, and services not covered by Medicare – such as long-term care.
Our guide to financial assistance for Medicare enrollees in Connecticut includes overviews of these benefits, including Medicare Savings Programs, long-term care coverage, and eligibility guidelines for assistance.
Helpful resources for Connecticut Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers
These resources provide free assistance and information about Medicare programs and availability in Connecticut.
- CHOICES (Connecticut’s program for Health insurance assistance, Outreach, Information and referral, Counseling, Eligibility Screening) answers questions about Medicare coverage in Connecticut.
- Our guide to Medicare’s annual open enrollment period is a summary of what you need to know about the fall enrollment window for Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans.
- Connecticut’s overview of Medicare Savings Programs is helpful for Connecticut Medicare beneficiaries with modest incomes and assets.
- The Medicare Rights Center website provides information geared to Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and professionals.
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.