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Connecticut: Only U.S. state enrolling more in private insurance than Medicaid

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the "rush" - if it can be called that, to register for "Obamacare," Connecticut is the only state in the country in which more people have applied for private coverage than Medicaid through the health insurance exchange.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The state's exchange has taken more than 11,000 applications for individual and small-business coverage, according to James Wadleigh, Access Health CT's chief information officer. Approximately  6,000 are for private insurance customers and about 4,700 will receive Medicaid.

The Medicaid program in Connecticut, as well as many other states will expand January 1 to cover more adults without minor children. The expansion is part of health care reform. Exchanges like Access Health are selling private insurance plans that for many are expected to come with discounted premiums, subsidized by the federal government.

Connecticut's unusual balance of applicants, Wadleigh said, is that the state began expanding Medicaid in 2010, shortly after the health law passed, meaning that fewer people are becoming eligible for Medicaid in Connecticut than in other states.

Connecticut currently provides Medicaid coverage to adults without minor children earning up to 56 percent of the poverty level. As of New Year's Day, that level will rise to 138 percent.

Officials expect that will add between 55,000 and 60,000 more people to the program. Adults with minor children, the income limit for Medicaid is already higher and will stay the same.

Of the private insurance customers so far, 27 percent have selected "gold" plans, which have the highest premiums but pay the highest share of members' medical costs.

The majority, 55 percent, have selected the mid-level "silver" plans, while 16 percent have chosen "bronze" plans. These have the cheapest premiums available -- but leave them with higher expenses if they seek medical care.

Two percent of the customers chose catastrophic plans, which are available to people under 30 and carry low premiums but high out-of-pocket costs for most medical care.

Of the people signing up for coverage, 19 percent are between ages 18 and 34, Wadleigh says. He did not say whether that referred to people signing up for Medicaid and private insurance, or just private insurance.

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