“Access Health CT” bracing for possible pullout by insurance carriers

- FILE - The Access Health CT office in New Haven (WTNH)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The head of “Access Health CT,” Connecticut’s Obamacare exchange, says if the Affordable Care Act fails the number of uninsured in New Haven and Waterbury would double. It would be even higher in Hartford.  He’s warning that the two remaining insurers offering individual plans in Connecticut could be pulling out within the next five weeks.

111,000 Connecticut residents are covered by either Anthem or Connecticare by way of “Access Health CT.”  They’re making it clear that no matter what you are hearing or reading on the internet; if you are covered now, you will be covered through December 31st. After that, things look very uncertain.

“Access Health CT” is planning to relocate their storefronts in New Britain and New Haven and add eight more around the state even though they don’t know right now what they’ll be offering to the more than 100,000 Connecticut residents currently covered by the Obamacare insurance exchange.

State Insurance Commissioner Katherine Wade telling the “Access Health CT” board of directors today,  “Our hope is that we’re going to be able to make decisions by the end of this month in time for carriers to make determinations.”

Wade was talking about rate hikes for next year which would likely go up around 20-percent.  Uncertainty prevailed at Wednesday’s board of directors meeting, much of it generated by tweets from President Trump, threatening to pull the plug on the federal subsidies that keep the premiums down for more than half the Connecticut residents covered by one of the two carriers in Connecticut.  “That adds risk to an industry that is solely based on avoiding risk,” said “Access Health CT” C.E.O. Jim Wadleigh.

If Trump starts pulling the plug on the payments, the next one is due on August 21st, the insurance companies will be on the hook for the difference and would make them likely to pull out entirely for next year. The state is unable to make up the difference.

State Budget Director Ben Barnes saying,  “As you know, we are having difficulty balancing our budget with our current range of expenses and so that would be an additional expense that would be difficult for the state to assume right now.”

“Access Health CT” says they are making plans for that possibility and will be ready when enrollment for next year begins November 1st.  Andrea Ravitz of “Access Health CT” saying,  “Some people might be able to buy directly from the carriers, at a different cost. But in this case, what we’ve been talking about; there might not be any type of financial help available to them, but that is an option
for them.”

Anthem and Connecticare must decide if they are staying in “Access Health CT” by September 8, that’s why the Insurance Department wants to act on rate hike requests before the end of August when, hopefully they’ll know if the federal subsidies will continue under the Trump Administration.

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