Archive for the ‘Connecticut’ Category

High Number of Americans are Underinsured

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The country has been very focused on uninsured Americans over the past couple of years.  Another important issue that is rarely discussed is how many people are actually underinsured.  U.S. News & World Report’s Kimberly Leonard discussed research from the Commonwealth Fund in her article, “Report Highlights Underinsured by State”.  The Commonwealth Fund’s report is called “America’s Underinsured: A State-by-State Look at Health Insurance Affordability Prior to the New Coverage Expansions”.  When looking at Americans under the age of 65, one out of every eight is underinsured.  This means that although they do have health insurance, they still pay a high percentage out of pocket for health care costs.  Many underinsured Americans end up filing for bankruptcy because of their health care bills.  They are also at a high risk of ignoring symptoms and avoiding the doctor.

States with the lowest rates of underinsured Americans were in the Northeast and the upper Midwest.  The Southern and Western states had the highest rates.  New Hampshire’s underinsured rate of 8% was the lowest in the nation.  Some of the other states with low rates include Minnesota, Maryland, and Massachusetts.  The highest underinsured rate of 17% belongs to both Idaho and Utah.  Both Tennessee and Mississippi had underinsured rates of 16%.  When the report looked at the combination of uninsured and underinsured Americans, the highest numbers of uninsured and underinsured Americans were in New Mexico and Texas.  Middle income Americans in Wyoming and Alaska suffer the most from being uninsured or underinsured.  One-third of the middle income population in those states falls into the uninsured or underinsured category.  The lowest uninsured and underinsured rates were in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia.  These states had combined rates less than 20%.

Deductibles, premiums, household income, and insurance status were taken into account for the report results.  Lower income households, earning less than $47,000 per year for a family of four, are considered underinsured if they spend more than 5% of their yearly income on health care costs.  Middle income households, earning between $47,000 and $95,000 per year, are underinsured if more than 10% of their annual income is spent on health care.  The Commonwealth Fund report found that $32 million Americans are underinsured, $4 million of whom come from middle income families.  It also showed that 47 million Americans were uninsured in 2012.  Obviously this data was collected before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.  It will be a good comparison for the next few years to see if the ACA makes the changes that it set out to make in “fixing” our health care system.  The number of uninsured Americans has certainly gone down, and the number of underinsured Americans should as well.  Since insurance companies can no longer discriminate against those with preexisting conditions and they must offer affordable plan choices, fewer Americans may be underinsured in the future.


Access Health CT to Open Six Storefronts in Connecticut

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Connecticut is the latest state opening brick and mortar health insurance exchange locations to help match the uninsured with health plans.  In The Bristol Press, Scott Whipple detailed the new locations in his article “Health insurance exchange coming soon to match uninsured with health care plan.”  Originally, Access Health CT, the state insurance exchange, thought that they would be opening seven locations.  After working on their plans for two years, it looks like they will open six locations.  New Britain’s storefront will be in addition to the other five locations in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Waterbury.  They have yet to finalize the New Britain location, but stress that it will both have plenty of parking and be located very near a CTfastrak terminal.

New Britain’s location was chosen to help match some of the 334,000 uninsured Connecticut residents with affordable health insurance plans for a few reasons.  It is a poorer city, very densely populated, and has a high number of residents who don’t currently have health insurance.  The location should be open on or before October 1 of this year.  Each Access Health location will have brokers on site as well as people there with specific knowledge of the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect uninsured individuals.  They are structuring their storefronts in the way of Apple in order to mimic their way of making it easy to buy a more sophisticated product in a clean, well lit and high-functioning space.

Access Health CT’s chief marketing officer said that the most difficult part of this planning has been that the uninsured have no knowledge of the insurance plans available to them.  One local Connecticut health insurance broker doesn’t think that the state is doing anything different and points out that there are already insurance storefronts where the uninsured could have gone to look for options.  But I do think it will be different for the government run program because of the changes with the Affordable Care Act.  Access Health’s CMO made a career change after the passage of this act to see what will come of the sweeping changes, after working for big insurance names like Aetna and Wellpoint.  While he admits that he doesn’t know it will all work out, he is hopeful that the hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents in Connecticut will be able to find affordable health insurance.

Connecticut’s Insurance Exchange A Model for Other States

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Connecticut is looking to be an example for the other states in the U.S. with their health insurance exchange.  The federally mandated exchanges are supposed to make it easier for uninsured Americans to find health insurance in an affordable way.  They will primarily be online and will offer an array of plans, most of which will be subsidized by the government for those needing help with the cost.  Connecticut’s exchange will have four different coverage tiers, which are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.  The Exchange’s Board of Directors just approved new criteria that is specific and will remain consistent across the different plans.  This criteria will enhance the transparency of the benefits and coverage and will make it easy to compare the overall value consumers will receive.

According to a press release from the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, each plan will offer comprehensive insurance coverage and include preventative care in consumers’ premium payments.  Many different people and agencies had a hand in developing the new criteria, which has three main goals.  The first is simplicity, both for consumers’ understanding and for administration.  Next, they strive to be completely focused on the consumer.  They will offer the basic health care that consumers need for the lowest possible price.  Lastly, the Exchange will put a strong emphasis on primary care so that people are taking an active approach to consistently maintain their health.

Nine different carriers have already showed interest in joining Connecticut’s health insurance exchange when it starts offering plans October 13 of this year.  Each insurer will have to offer a standard plan design in each tier, but can also offer another of their own to encourage competition and new ideas.  In addition to the four above mentioned tiers, three more silver plans will be available to lower income families.  The Connecticut Insurance Department will approve all of the plans once the insurance carriers iron out the details of what they will offer consumers.  All plans will be certified by the Exchange.  Look for Connecticut’s health insurance exchange to be up and running this October.