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CT Officials Scramble To Implement Changes Regarding Canceled Plans

by Christine Stuart | Dec 20, 2013 12:15pm
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care

Christine Stuart file photo

Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan

The head of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange said Friday that his organization suggested giving people with canceled plans the option to purchase a bare-bones catastrophic plan about a month ago.

“Ironically, this was our idea over a month ago when the issue of the canceled policies came up,” Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said Friday during a conference call with reporters.

Counihan said he had no idea that it would become federal policy even though he ran it past the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

But exactly how the state would be able to implement this for the 38,561 canceled policies is still a mystery.

The Access Health CT website is set up to recognize that if a person isn’t under the age of 30 they will not be able to get a catastrophic plan.

Catastrophic insurance plans have high deductibles and lower monthly premiums. There are three catastrophic plans offered on Connecticut’s exchange and each has a $6,350 deductible for individuals and $12,700 for families.

There are fewer than four days left for these people with canceled policies to purchase a plan if they want coverage on Jan. 1. Counihan said his team is scrambling to be able to make it possible.

There’s also a question about what it would do to the rate structure and the demographic information assumed in creating those rates.

“We got as many questions as you do about what it really means,” Counihan said.

America’s Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Karen Ignagni said Thursday that “this latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers.”

Counihan said that’s a huge policy issue because these health insurance plans submitted their rates believing the oldest person to enroll in a catastrophic plan would be 30 years old.

“What are the implications to the rest of the risk pool?” Counihan said.

The decision will have a trickle down effect on the actuarial values of the other risk pools. If people from those pools are migrating to the catastrophic plans then what does this mean for the plans? Counihan said that’s a question he can’t answer at the moment.

Counihan said he’s spoken to members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation and the Insurance Department about what this means.

“Does it supersede state policy?” Counihan said. “We just don’t know.”

He said it’s a complication that he could have done without as the Dec. 23 deadline for open enrollment ends. In order to be covered on Jan. 1, the enrollment process will need to be completed by midnight on Dec. 23.

“To be frank with you the mind reels just a little bit that this could be introduced four days before the end of open enrollment,” Counihan said. “We know that everybody’s heart is in the right place, but with respect to consistency of messaging and helping not to confuse the public, this obviously represents a little bit of a challenge for all the states.”

But Counihan said they’re up for the challenge. He described the rollout of the exchange as a game of “three-dimensional speed chess.”

For example, there are about 25,933 people who began the enrollment process and have not completed the application. Counihan worries those people may believe they will have coverage on Jan. 1.

In an effort to head off any confusion, Counihan said they are calling each of those people in addition to sending them a letter to remind them they won’t have coverage on Jan. 1 if they don’t complete the process by Dec. 23.

“We want to anticipate that. We want to get ahead of it,” Counihan said.

He said he doesn’t want someone to show up in the emergency room on Jan. 1 and think they have coverage because they began the enrollment process.

There are about 47,000 Connecticut residents who have enrolled in the exchange to date and about 50 percent are enrolled in one of the three private health insurance plans, while the other 50 percent are enrolled in Medicaid.

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(13) Comments

posted by: ABC | December 20, 2013  12:46pm

Unbelievable. 

Unbelievable that we have thrown into disarray the best healthcare system in the world to provide coverage for people who received free primary and emergency medical care to begin with.

Unbelievable that anyone would think after all of this that a bigger more activist government is anything but a path to destruction of this country.

posted by: DirtyJobsGUy | December 20, 2013  2:19pm

Since the President evidently can change the law at a whim, how about relaxing the requirements that raised my companies costs 64%?  I guess not falling into a privileged group matters.

posted by: CT Jim | December 20, 2013  5:00pm

The best healthcare system in the world????? What planet are you from LMAO

posted by: GoConnecticut | December 20, 2013  8:51pm

I like my ObamaCare.  My policy goes live in just 12 days.  I kept my doctor.  Republican worst nightmare: ObamaCare is working now.

posted by: Lawrence | December 20, 2013  9:13pm

“Unbelievable that we have thrown into disarray the best healthcare system in the world to provide coverage for people who received free primary and emergency medical care to begin with.”


You must be joking. Either that, or this is the most ignorant post I have ever read, anywhere. And that’s really saying something.

posted by: dano860 | December 21, 2013  9:28am

It’s just another,“policy uncertainty in Washington.”
Things are going to be wonderful, at least for the next few weeks while he lounges in Hawaii.
We are in a happy place in America, we’re giving the undocumented and undeserving anything they desire while taking it away from the veterans that earned it. No problem here just look at the sunny side and smile!  They should be glad, we all should be that we are on this side of the lawn.
They will get this figured out and with any luck their lack luster security is better that Targets.
Don’t be a worry wart!

posted by: Lawrence | December 21, 2013  8:51pm

ABC and Dano, I offer this link in all sincerity, out of love and compassion for my fellow man—for “peace of mind” “especially at this time of year,” as one Republican state senator who never voted for expanded public access to health insurance might say:

http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/health-insurance/index.html

posted by: lkulmann | December 22, 2013  12:49am

CT is truly out of touch with reality.  It’s much worse than I thought. The ACA can be implemented by States or by the Federal Government.  Its obvious to me that CT doesn’t have the residents best interests as the priority. I vote healthcare be administered by the federal government.  No sassy attitude,  no haters no more game playing with healthcare, no more playing with people’s lives,  no more lost applications,  no more denied needed services, no more making up the rules and laws as we go, no more lies,  no more bull… We need professionals who can run a tight ship. If the animals in leadership want to tap federal funds, that’s your problem,  don’t make it mine. This State is mess…

posted by: Lawrence | December 22, 2013  7:56pm

“No sassy attitude,  no haters no more game playing with healthcare, no more playing with people’s lives,  no more lost applications,  no more denied needed services, no more making up the rules and laws as we go, no more lies,  no more bull…”

You’re talking about insurance companies, right?

This is fun!

posted by: dano860 | December 23, 2013  9:44am

All that well and good, Larry, but you have to get them to take the insurance #1 and then if they are offered the help they need to accept it.
Personal family experience has taught me that and that alone can be a huge challenge. Then after they do get help, keeping them either in the ‘happy zone’ either by situation or medication is a real battle. They often begin to feel ‘normal’ and stop the treatment.
I have friends and family in these situations and we fear them stopping their meds and then becoming dangerous once again.
I was fortunate and my family member had good insurance. I was able to get them into The Institute of Living in Hartford. They required elecro-shock treatment that (to my amazement) worked. They still require daily medication though.
In the Lanza case it has been reported that he was reacting to the possibility of his mother attempting to get him some help.
When you have lived with them, you constantly fear their actions etc. you have to take extra caution, pre-cautions to keep yourself safe. She didn’t.
All of the ideas proposed are nice but the government will never be the ones to get it right. They won’t be the ones responsible for their care or actions if they don’t get the care. They will be the first to claim that they have the answers though and that doesn’t solve the problem.
The other question I have is why is the problem so pervasive today? Why are there all of these problems today? Are there more or is it that I am just more aware?
In the Sunday Hartford Courant Denise Stankovics writes an Op-Ed about the situation facing the ‘intellectually challenged’ and how the government needs to step up to the plate. I think that they need the insurance and get their own care. There shouldn’t be a Department of Developmental Services (formerly DMR). They always end up the weak link in a budget battle and it shouldn’t be. Put it all in the hands of private facilities and the new insurance that everyone has at their disposal.

posted by: ABC | December 23, 2013  10:11am

Lawrence - Ever get sick in the UK where you needed a doctor?  Try it sometime.  Maybe then you can understand why the UK wealthy as well as the wealthy from all over the world come to the U.S. for treatment. 

Want better healthcare for the poor?  Stop government subsidies of corn (and junk food) and watch obesity drop and healthier fare become more price competitive with crapola.

Then we should lower income taxes on the wealthy and watch charitable contributions flow into NFPs which are for more effective than the government at serving the needs of the poor. 

Unlike the government, the NFP sector has kept up with trends in technology and research.  Far more effective to go through the private sector to cure social ills.

posted by: timelord | December 23, 2013  12:26pm

@lkulmann, I’m afraid that I’m terribly confused.  You wrote: “I vote healthcare be administered by the federal government” AND “We need professionals who can run a tight ship.”

Do you see the same problem that the rest of us see? The federal government certainly won’t run a tight ship.  I don’t think any government agency, at any level of government, has ever been accused of running a tight ship!

posted by: timelord | December 23, 2013  12:48pm

@Lawrence wrote that “This is fun!”  On several counts I agree with him wholeheartedly. It’s highly entertaining watching the progressives finally get what they have so diligently worked for - the complete destruction of our healthcare system, backpedaling and ass-covering by loyal Democrats, and the liberal elites screaming that Obamacare isn’t working the way that they wanted it to.

But I also recognize that, for now, I have the luxury of enjoying the serving-up of just desserts because I have good medical insurance. But how long will that last? What further damage will the Progressives wreak upon us that might cause me to lose the plan I have?

I have true empathy for those that are losing plans they like and doctors they like, especially if the replacements are unaffordable and come with high deductibles. If I were in their place I would be experiencing full-blown panic by now because I have several chronic conditions that are very expensive to treat and breaking in a new doctor is no easy task.

If I were to lose my medical insurance one of two things would happen: the cost of my medications would bankrupt me in about 6 months, or I’d stop taking them and be unable to continue working, go on disability and probably Medicaid and therefore be a burden on society in addition to living a miserable existence.

The only solution to the current morass is the complete repeal of Obamacare and the implementation of one of the solutions proposed by one of the free-market think-tanks like Cato.