With inflation at its highest level in 40 years and double-digit increases in health insurance premiums around the corner, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont joined Protect Our Care on Tuesday to tout the funding additional federal government to subsidize health insurance premiums.
“It gives people good, solid coverage for $10 a month. Coverage they didn’t have before,” said Leslie Dach, president of Protect Our Care.
But not everyone who buys their health insurance through Access Health CT pays that amount. About 70% of people have received a reduced rate on their premiums, while another 30% are not receiving any help to reduce their monthly premiums.
Some of the bronze plans are high-deductible plans and some of the silver plans offer a co-pay for certain services before the deductible kicks in, which means some people pay large sums for specific care or hospitalizations. .
“Is it perfect? No. Do I wish it cost less money? Yes,” Dach said.
Lamont touted the Covered Connecticut plan, which will eventually cover 40,000 low-income people who don’t qualify for Husky and who are working families on the fringes. However, most of the 100,000 people participating in the exchange will not receive the same amount of assistance to offset the monthly cost of health insurance.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re done, but I don’t think it’s fair to say we haven’t made progress,” Dach said.
Protect Our Care is traveling the country in a big bus to communicate the benefits of the Cut Inflation Act, which provided three additional years of federal grants to reduce the cost of monthly premiums for plans purchased through the exchange. Passed along party lines, the new law also caps out-of-pocket prescription drug spending for seniors under Medicare at $2,000 by allowing the government to negotiate with drug companies on drug prices.
“We all know how high health care prices have a devastating impact on families when someone gets sick,” Dach said. “After years of big pharma and special interests pulling strings, President Biden and Democrats in Congress have cut prescription drug and health care costs for millions of people — with help already underway. .”
Lamont, who has no plan on the swap, said the state has made progress in reducing health insurance rates.
“We’re making health care more affordable, for more people than ever before,” Lamont said.
He said Covered Connecticut doesn’t cover everyone, but “at least it extends it with no outlay for that group of people.”
John Carbone, who leads the small business division for Access Health CT, said the deductible doesn’t come into play for many services, only the more expensive ones like hospitalizations. He said annual exams like mammograms, colonoscopies and medical exams have co-pays that come into play before the deductible with some money plans.
“There’s a big misconception that all plans on the stock market are deductible first plans,” Carbone said.
But regardless of the subsidies, health insurance premiums are rising for almost all of the 17 plans offered by the exchange.
Last month, the Connecticut Department of Insurance approved an average of 12.9% increases for people who buy their insurance through the exchange. In the small groups market, the department approved increases of 7.9% on average.
Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said “skyrocketing” health care costs had contributed to the rate hike.
“The unit cost of inpatient and outpatient care has increased by about 9% per year,” Mais said. “Prescription drug prices have gone up again.”
He said the rates for 2023 “will continue to protect consumers from inflationary prices and unwarranted profits while ensuring Connecticut residents have access to a stable and competitive health insurance market. But we need to consider other pathways available to reduce overall costs and keep care, and this insurance, affordable.
The rate increases have drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans.
Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat who has repeatedly called for a hearing to question industry officials under oath, said the new rates would worsen an already unaffordable health care system for many families.
“These double-digit rate hikes – among the highest in the country – will only make things worse,” Tong said. “While I appreciate that CID imposed substantial reductions to the requested rate increases, this process was far too compressed and far too limited to permit sufficient review.”
Republican lawmakers have been equally critical, and Lamont’s Republican opponent Bob Stefanowski pointed out during last month’s debate that the cost of health insurance exceeds monthly premiums.
Stefanowski said he agrees with Lamont that they need to work on lowering prescription drug prices, but also need to address surprise bills when a provider is out of network.
“We have to stop talking about it and do something,” Stefanowski said. “People are in trouble. Nothing has happened in the last four years.
Republican lawmakers, like Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, have said that even with the new “federal bailout fund, Connecticut residents are still facing staggering increases.”
“Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act promising affordable, accessible, and quality health care. Here we are a decade later and that promise has never been fulfilled,” Kelly said.
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