After one year of operation, plans in Connecticut’s state healthcare exchange have grown slightly cheaper — a sign that the healthcare market has taken off.
On Connecticut’s healthcare exchange, the cheapest silver healthcare plan, which covers about 70 percent of an enrollee’s expenses, has grown 4.7 percent cheaper before government subsidies, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation report. The demographic for this statistic is 40-year-old non-smokers who earn $30,000 a year. Healthcare providers typically lower premiums when enough healthy customers sign up, an assurance that the providers will not be saddled with unnecessary healthcare costs.
“Connecticut’s healthcare market is a voluntary exchange, and there [will be] a situation in which those with poorer health are quicker to sign up,” said Elizabeth Bradley, director of the Yale Global Health Initiative and Master of Branford College.
Shari Hinton, an agency coordinator for Patient Financial and Admitting Services at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said the Affordable Care Act has broad appeal because it allows for everyone who qualifies to apply. Hinton said that those who are uninsured and think healthcare is unaffordable now have the capability to access healthcare resources.
As a hospital coordinator who receives patients redirected from their lack of adequate insurance, Hinton has helped many patients fill out profiles on Access Health CT, the Connecticut State-based Marketplace.
“A lot of people think they don’t qualify, but they find out they actually do when we go through an interview process,” Hinton said.
While the Affordable Care Act, the federal law under whose auspices the Connecticut exchange was founded, has increased enrollment, there are still healthcare issues that have been left unaddressed, Bradley said. The Affordable Care Act focuses on financial access to healthcare and does not address the availability of doctors who can effectively address the cultural and language needs of communities within Connecticut and the rest of the country, she said.
Many patients do not even realize that additional resources have been created by the Affordable Care act, according to Leora Horwitz, an internal medicine physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital who focuses on the quality of care.
“One of my patients did not know that the insurance we were discussing was covered due to the Affordable Care Act,” Horwitz said. “My patient had heard about the Connecticut Exchange but did not connect the state health exchange with the Affordable Care Act.”
Still, she added, Connecticut is acting as a national example — with the exchange’s leaders consulting on other state exchanges.
The current political climate would seem to support federal healthcare policy expansion in the future, Hinton said. With new party waves coming into office in the next few years, however, the direction of healthcare is still uncertain.
As of April 2014, 36.7 percent of eligible state residents in Connecticut have been enrolled in Connecticut’s State-based healthcare exchange market.