Last year at this time eight percent of Connecticut’s residents were uninsured.
But just year one after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured residents has been cut in half, to roughly 147,000. And, in order to further reduce this number, Connecticut’s health care exchange is expanding it’s reach beyond the web and storefronts in New Britain and New Haven.
“We also have other enrollment opportunities at libraries, Department of Labor locations, health clinics across the state,” said Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer of Access Health CT. “One of our lessons learned from year one of the roll out was to try to make sure that we have in person assistance."
Access Health CT, one of the more successful state exchanges in the nation, lost its former CEO, Kevin Cunihane, several months ago. He moved to Washington, D.C. to take over running the much maligned federal program and website, healthcare.gov.
Another message from Madrak: we need to let folks know healthcare is affordable. “Affordable could mean free, if you qualify for Medicaid, or it could even mean a plan as low as $30 or $40 a month, if you qualify for some of the more generous levels of tax premiums,” added Madrak.
For many who did not have health coverage last year, a penalty of $95 or one percent of income--whichever is greater--was levied. In 2015, those numbers are bumped up to $295 or percent of your income.
“The tax penalty is there as an incentive to hopefully encourage people to go ahead and get coverage,” said Madrak.
There are 10 municipalities in Connecticut that contain almost 2/3 of the remaining uninsured. That’s where from an outreach, marketing and communications standpoint Access Health CT will focus its enrollment efforts.
Nationally, premiums through the Affordable Care Act have increased about 3.5 percent. In Connecticut, Madrak says, rates will remain largely flat.