Connecticut becomes model for health care

As Connecticut’s success in providing health insurance to citizens catches national attention, other states are seeking to franchise the state’s model.

Access Health CT, led by Chief Executive Officer Kevin J. Counihan, has succeeded in signing up 55,000 citizens for private coverage through the exchange. Counihan is offering to license the Connecticut exchange to states that have expressed interest in using a similar system.

“The process should be pretty simple,” Counihan said. “We’ve got the capacity to take on other states.”

Counihan attributes the success of Access Health CT to his hardworking staff, many of whom come from the insurance industry.

He added that the insurance background of his employees helps them aggressively recruit customers.

Counihan said he thinks other states should use Connecticut’s model. If they do not, it could be because “politics and professional ego” are involved; states might feel less in control when using another state’s framework, Counihan explained.

Counihan added that those at Access Health CT know the system’s limits. They decided, for example, that they would not be able to accommodate all of the Connecticut Medicare and Medicaid Services’ regulations this year in order to operate efficiently.

Access Health CT has scaled back the functionality of its exchange about 20 percent to focus on the most important aspects of coverage for customers, according to Counihan.

“We wanted to build a Mercedes,” Counihan said. “But we’ve scaled back to a Ford Focus. And that has worked.”

Counihan also credits Connecticut’s “great sales and outreach plan,” which has trained over a thousand brokers to talk to potential carriers at Access Health CT’s retail stores.

The insurance provider currently has retail locations in New Haven and New Britain, and is establishing a third in Fairfield County. Access Health CT recruits about 200 carriers a day from each of the locations, Counihan said.

Access Health CT has also built alliances with outreach organizations to broaden the distribution of its insurance coverage and to educate carriers.

Access Health CT has worked with students from Yale College and Yale Medical School and members from the Board of Alders, among others.

“We went door to door to talk to constituents,” said Ward 22 Alderwoman Jeanette Morrison. “People were really excited to be hearing about their health insurance.”

Morrison said she canvassed for health insurance around New Haven over the weekend.

Yale Democrats communications director Lily Sawyer-Kaplan ’17 also canvassed with other Yale students this past weekend.

“Access Health has done a great job already,” she said. “And I think it will continue to help people in the state.”

With Access Health CT, Connecticut is the only state to have retail locations for carriers.

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