Access Health CT warns remaining insurers may leave

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HARTFORD  — The CEO of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is warning that the two remaining insurers offering individual plans could leave Access Health CT this fall.

Jim Wadleigh told Access Health’s board of directors on Wednesday that “this is a threat knocking on our doors for the next open enrollment,” which begins Nov. 1.

The two carriers, Anthem and ConnectiCare, have until Sept. 8 to notify Access Health CT whether they’ll still participate. There was a high of four insurers in 2015. Insurers have expressed concerns about remaining financially sustainable in Connecticut.

Wadleigh says coverage for current Access Health CT customers will remain unchanged through December, no matter what happens in Washington. There’s concern the federal government may stop billions of dollars in payments to insurers.

During today’s Access Health CT Board of Directors meeting, CEO James Wadleigh made the following statement:

During today’s Access Health CT Board of Directors meeting, CEO James Wadleigh made the following statement:
“Our nation is going through conversations and negotiations around major potential changes in the healthcare space. Even though much of what is being proposed are just “proposals,” I cannot stop thinking about the potential negative repercussions here in our state.
Access Health CT has been and continues to be a leader in providing quality healthcare choices to state residents. In only 4 short years, we decreased the uninsured rate more than 50% to an historical low of 3.5%. We have enrolled hundreds of thousands of CT residents and have helped close to 1 million people.

Today I want to reinforce my concern about two important issues.
Number one, the constant threat of the Affordable Care Act being repealed, and number two, the threat of losing our only two insurance companies currently participating on the exchange.

A recent report by the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center described what could be at stake in our state as federal lawmakers consider changes to the health law. In part, they found that in New Haven and Waterbury, the number of uninsured residents under age 65 would be nearly twice as high without the ACA. Bridgeport’s uninsured rate for nonelderly residents would be more than 50% higher and Hartford’s would be more than 60% higher.

The impact on minority groups under 65 since the law was implemented has been dramatic. In each group, the uninsured rate has decreased by half or more. For example:

• The uninsured rate among black residents is 8%. Without the ACA, it would be 15%
• Among Latinos is 14%. Without it, it would be 22%.
• Among women, 5%. Without it, would be 10%
• Finally, the uninsured rate among young adults is 12%. Without the ACA, it would be 20%.

Next, I’d like to address the possibility of AHCT losing its carriers. As I have been saying for the past 4 months, this is a threat knocking on our doors for the next open enrollment. Come the first week in September, there is a chance that the two insurance companies currently participating and offering plans through Access Health CT will leave the individual market on-exchange. This would have a dramatic impact on our state budget, our healthcare system and most important, the people we serve.

From a state budget perspective, there would be a shift in cost allocation from the exchange to the state of close to $20M in the first year alone. Second, our healthcare system could see an increase in uncompensated care (more visits to emergency room) and a potential decrease in organizational productivity due to employees getting or staying sick.

And last but certainly not least, this would impact the people we serve. As you know, at the end of the last open enrollment Access Health CT enrolled over 111,000 individuals in private healthcare coverage that those individuals might not be able to buy or afford if they didn’t get it through the exchange. Of the more than 111,000 individuals, 25% are in the 18-34 age group often described as the healthier group that brings stability to the industry (also one of the hardest groups to acquire and retain). In addition, close to 75% get some type of financial help to be able to pay for their plans.
Finally, there are some key upcoming dates that we will be watching to see local and national trends:

• August 16: Health insurers on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace can make final adjustments to their proposed 2018 premiums
• August 21: Next round of Cost Sharing Reduction payments to be made
• September 1st: Expected 2018 Individual Market rate approval date for CT Insurance Department
• September 4: U.S. Senate starts hearings on individual market
• September 6: Last day for CT carriers to notify Access Health CT if they plan to not participate on the Exchange
• September 20: Another round of CSR payments to be made by federal government
• November 1: Open enrollment for Access Health CT

With all the uncertainty coming out of Washington DC, I want to remind Access Health CT customers that their current Healthcare coverage will remain the same through December 31st, 2017. No changes will occur to deductibles, copays or benefits, no matter what they may hear.
Access Health CT will continue to work to minimize the impact to our customers and their families and we will do everything in our power to help maintain their healthcare coverage.”