ConnectiCare reverses decision, will remain on Access Health exchange

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HARTFORD–Just one day after news broke that another health insurer in the state was leaving the public exchange, that insurer reversed its decision.

On Friday, the state received a letter from ConnectiCare saying they were “terminating their agreement and exiting the state’s healthcare exchange.”

On Tuesday, it appears pressure from the public pushed the insurer to change its decision.

Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh said, “We are very happy to hear that ConnectiCare will remain part of the exchange for 2017 providing plans and options that allow individuals and families get access to quality care; this is great news. The more choices we have to offer our customers, the better off they will be.”

Gov. Dan Malloy also released a statement on the reversal:

The decision made today by ConnectiCare is welcome news as many Connecticut residents who depend on the carrier for their healthcare services will continue to benefit from their inclusion in the exchange. Hundreds of thousands of people in our state are benefiting from Obamacare, many of whom either previously had no healthcare at all or lacked quality coverage.

Recent data shows that Access Health CT has brought the number of uninsured people in our state to its lowest rate in history, and among the lowest rates in the country. Our administration will continue working to ensure that Connecticut remains a leader in implementing an exchange that provides quality, secure, and affordable healthcare to all of our state’s families. I thank Lt. Governor Wyman, Access Health CT, the Insurance Department, and ConnectiCare for quickly working to find a solution that ultimately is in the best interest of Connecticut residents.”

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who serves as chair of the Access Health CT Board of Directors, said,

This is very good news for Connecticut consumers and for our healthcare marketplace. Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act, Connecticut’s top priority has been expanding access to healthcare – ensuring that preventative care, treatment for chronic conditions, and a healthcare home would be available to everyone no matter their income, gender, or health status. ConnectiCare has been a valuable partner in this effort to build a healthier state, a stronger workforce, and a better marketplace for us all. I welcome their decision to stay. I also want to recognize Jim Wadleigh, the CEO of Access Health CT, Commissioner Wade, and ConnectiCare for their commitment to resolving this situation to the benefit of residents.”

On Monday, Access Health released a statement about the initial news that ConnectiCare was leaving the exchange, saying that they’d sent the letter to the Connecticut Insurance Department to review. The statement said, in part:

Access Health CT’s number one priority has always been and continues to be our customers. We are a national leader in healthcare because we are 100 percent committed to ensuring that Connecticut residents have access to affordable, high quality healthcare. ConnectiCare’s decision is certainly a challenge, but AHCT will continue to adapt to the changing healthcare market with an eye on ensuring our consumers the best options.

FOX 61 reached out to ConnectiCare earlier on Monday, before Access Health announced the departure, and this was the response:

ConnectiCare is still actively working to stay on the exchange. We will share updates ad they become available.

Later in the day on Monday, but still before the announcement, we got a second statement from CEO and President Michael Wise:

ConnectiCare is actively working to stay on Access Health CT.  We have asked Access Health CT to extend their deadline so we can continue to work together to ensure that the over 50,000 Connecticut citizens we serve can keep their health plan.

Access Health released a statement on Friday after ConnectiCare filed a lawsuit against the state threatening to leave the exchange. CEO Jim Wadleigh said in a statement on Friday:

While we don’t comment on lawsuits, I will say that if ConnectiCare does decide to leave the exchange we’ll adapt to that new landscape.

While it’s true that competition benefits the consumer, in this case there could potentially be a silver lining for the residents of Connecticut.  Anthem could create a more diversified risk pool which could help them control and help stabilize the cost of the various policies it offers to customers throughout the state.

The Affordable Care Act represents one of the biggest social policy changes of our lifetime.  The implementation of this policy requires everyone, including us to adapt – especially early on – to the changing landscape, and to make sure that we meet the challenges the law presents to us in a way that provides the most consumer-friendly experience possible.  That’s how we view this development: it’s a challenge.  And we will meet it.

Earlier this month, Aetna announced it was pulling out of Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2/3 of the areas it served, though Connecticut was not impacted.

In August, a hearing was held after health insurers asked for rates to be increased. At that meeting, ConnectiCare asked for an average 24.3 percent increase for individual plans offered off the exchange, which cover 37,142 people. Meanwhile, Aetna asked for a 27.9 percent increase for off-exchange plans covering 6,346 people.

And in July, Wadleigh said that Access Health was working with Anthem and ConnectiCare to help them stay on the exchange. Both said at the time they would keep covering Connecticut residents for at least a year.