Frequently asked questions about health insurance
coverage options in Connecticut
Access Health CT is a successful state-run exchange (marketplace) that dodged many of the technical problems that plagued other exchanges over the first few years of operation. The exchange is used by individuals, families, and small businesses that need to purchase health insurance coverage.
Individual market policies are purchased by people who are self-employed, retired prior to age 65, or employed by a small business that doesn’t provide health benefits. People who purchase these individual market plans through the exchange are able to obtain financial assistance (premium subsidies and cost-sharing reductions) depending on their household income. These subsidies reduce monthly premium costs as well as out-of-pocket medical costs. Access Health CT offers state-funded subsidies through the Covered Connecticut program, in addition to the federal subsidies provided under the ACA.
The open enrollment window for individual/family health coverage runs from November 1 through January 15 in Connecticut. You can learn more about open enrollment in our comprehensive guide.
Outside of open enrollment, a qualifying life event is generally necessary to enroll or make changes to your coverage.
But some people can sign up for private plans through Access Health CT year-round, including Native Americans and people who are eligible for the Covered Connecticut program. People who are eligible for Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (HUSKY Health) can also enroll in that coverage anytime.
For 2023 coverage, three insurers are offering plans through the exchange in Connecticut:
- ConnectiCare Benefits, Inc.
- ConnectiCare Insurance Company
All three insurers also offered plans in 2022.
For 2023, Connecticut regulators finalized smaller rate increases than the insurers had proposed (rate details available here). The final approved average rate increase ended up being 12.9% (insurers had proposed an overall average increase of about 20%).
Connecticut regulators almost always approve smaller rate increases than the insurers propose. For 2022 individual/family coverage, the insurers proposed an overall average rate increase of 8.6%. But state regulators approved an overall average rate increase of 5.6% instead. And ConnectiCare Insurance Company was new to the exchange for 2022, bringing the total number of participating insurers to three. (That continues to be the case for 2023.)
See more information about Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace.
112,633 people enrolled in private plans through Access Health CT during the open enrollment period for 2022 coverage. Enrollment in Connecticut’s exchange has hovered between about 110,000 and 116,000 people ever since 2015.
Although enrollment declined from 2020 to 2021, this has to be considered in conjunction with the fact that Medicaid enrollment in the state increased by more than 70,000 people from February to November 2020, as a result of job/income losses during the pandemic. And Medicaid (HUSKY) enrollment has continued to grow throughout the pandemic, as eligibility redeterminations have been paused for the duration of the COVID public health emergency.
Connecticut opted for a state-based exchange, Access Health CT, and expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The state’s uninsured 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 and again in 2019. According to official US Census data, the uninsured rate in Connecticut was 9.4% in 2013 and stood at 5.9% in 2019.
As of early 2022, there were nearly 96,000 people enrolled in effectuated private health plans through Access Health CT; Obamacare’s essential health benefits are covered for all of them, with no lifetime or annual caps on the benefits. And 82% of these enrollees were receiving premium subsidies, which help to make monthly premiums affordable. A year earlier (as of early 2021), only 69% of Access Health CT enrollees had been receiving subsidies, but the American Rescue Plan was enacted in 2021, making subsidies larger and more widely available. And most of the ARP’s subsidy enhancements have been extended through 2025 by the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – 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. All five of the state’s Representatives are still Democrats as of 2022.
Connecticut state lawmakers passed legislation authorizing a state-run health insurance marketplace in 2011, and then Gov. Dan Malloy signed the bill into law on July 1, 2011. Malloy was re-elected in 2014. Current Governor, Ned Lamont, who is also a Democrat, took office in 2019.
The state health insurance 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 first CEO, Kevin Counihan, was named CEO of Healthcare.gov in August 2014.
In 2010, Connecticut was the first state to adopt Medicaid expansion, and it again expanded Medicaid eligibility criteria for the program at the beginning of 2014.
Between February and November 2020, enrollment in HUSKY Health (Connecticut’s Medicaid and CHIP program) grew by about 70,000 people, reaching a total of more than 920,000. By mid-2022, total enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP in Connecticut stood at more than 977,000 people. The growth during the pandemic stems from both Medicaid expansion under the ACA (making it easier for people to qualify for coverage) and the nationwide pause on eligibility redeterminations for the duration of the COVID public health emergency.
Read more about Medicaid eligibility and the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in Connecticut.
In 2018, the Trump administration relaxed the rules on the duration of short-term health insurance policies, but the rules allow states to continue to impose more strict restrictions, and Connecticut does.
The state already limited short-term coverage to no more than six months in duration, and prohibited renewals. Starting in 2019, Connecticut began requiring short-term health plans to cover essential health benefits. As a result, there are no longer any insurers offering short-term plans in the state.
Read more about short-term health insurance in Connecticut.
Connecticut Medicare enrollment reached 715,595 as of August 2022. About 52% of those enrollees had private Medicare Advantage plans, while the other 48% were covered under Original Medicare. Nationwide, about 46% of Medicare beneficiaries have private Medicare Advantage plans, but Connecticut is one of several states where the majority of enrollees have selected Advantage plans.
Most Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut are eligible for Medicare due to age, but about 10% are under 65 and are eligible because of a long-term disability, ALS, or end-stage renal disease.
Read more about Medicare in Connecticut, including the state’s rules for Medigap plans, and options for private Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription coverage.
Learn about how Medicaid supports one in five Medicare beneficiaries. (Medicaid in Connecticut is HUSKY Health)
Got questions about the annual Medicare open enrollment period? Our guide can help.
- Access Health CT — Website that Connecticut residents use to enroll in private individual market or small group coverage, or income-based Medicaid/CHIP coverage.
- Connecticut CHOICES Program – free enrollment counseling and assistance for Medicare beneficiaries
- Connecticut Insurance Department — Regulates and licenses health insurance companies, brokers, and agents; responds to consumers’ questions and complaints about entities that are regulated by the Department.
- Husky Healthcare — health coverage for Connecticut residents with low and modest incomes.
- Medicare Rights Center — A national service that provides assistance and information to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers.
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.)
Since January 2014, all new major medical policies in the individual market have been 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. 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.