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CT’s Exchange Bucks Enrollment Trends In Other States

by Christine Stuart | Nov 4, 2013 6:30am
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care, White House

In the first month of enrollment, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange has signed up 7,615 people, according to Access Health CT officials.

Of those, 4,065 have signed up for plans with one of the three private insurance carriers and 3,550 were enrolled in Medicaid. Meanwhile, 55 small businesses with 306 employees have signed up for coverage in the small group market.

The Medicaid to private insurance ratio bucks the trend being set in other states with their own exchanges. In some states, at least 9 out of 10 enrollees fall below 138 percent of the federal poverty level and are enrolling in Medicaid.

In Washington, 42,000 of the 49,000 enrolled in its state exchange in the first month qualified for Medicaid, according to a report published by the Seattle Times.

But Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan, who previously worked with the Connector in Massachusetts, said enrollment can’t be looked at solely on a one month or even a six month basis.

“It’s got to be looked at over a period of years,” Counihan said last week in an interview.

In the first month at the Connector in Massachusetts, which became the model for federal healthcare reform, only 123 people enrolled, he said. But by the end of its first year of enrollment, 171,847 were covered.

“In terms of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], these days it’s kind of this gotcha environment right now,” Counihan said. “You know to me this is a three- to four-year implementation period.”

“This stuff builds,” he said. “We’re barely in the first inning of a three-year game.”

Last week, President Barack Obama visited Boston to tout the Affordable Care Act, which is also commonly referred to as Obamacare.

“Health care reform in this state was a success,” Obama told a Boston audience. “That doesn’t mean it was perfect right away. There were early problems to solve. There were changes that had to be made. Anybody here who was involved in it can tell you that.”

The federal government — which is struggling with website problems — has declined to release enrollment numbers, but a handful of the states with their own exchanges have been reporting numbers.

Connecticut decided to report its enrollment numbers every two weeks even though Counihan said they were asked by the White House to report when they report, which is going to be once a month.

“Some states like California have already agreed to do that,” Counihan said. “Our board is not comfortable with that. They’ve actually tried to thread the needle a little bit and they’ve told us now to report every two weeks.”

There have been problems over the past week with the federal data hub going down both unexpectedly and for scheduled maintenance.

Connecticut’s exchange, which doesn’t rely as much as some other states on the federal database for information, does need to communicate with the federal hub to verify identity and income of its enrollees. The application process cannot be completed without verifying the information with the federal hub.

Counihan said enrollment may be impacted slightly by news about the federal website and the angst coming out of Washington.

“I think there’s sort of an overtone of confusion with some of this,” Counihan said. “Hopefully by Nov. 30 when some of the fixes come through a lot of this noise will wind down.”

Residents who are interested in receiving coverage through the exchange on Jan. 1 will have to finalize their application by Dec. 15. Enrollment in the exchange is open through March 31.

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(13) Comments

posted by: Really? | November 4, 2013  1:13pm

This is all good news for those who need it…oh right, that’s me too. The nonprofit I work for doesn’t have a group plan, my wife has pre-existing conditions and she’s been turned down by five insurance plans previously.  This is exactly what we needed and we’ll add to that total registered in the next two weeks. I like the transparency of the state’s exchange and frequent information on who’s registered.

posted by: Matt W. | November 4, 2013  1:39pm

Matt W.

Interesting but without knowing, on average, how many Private Insurer enrollees are needed to cover the cost of one Medicaid enrollee, its not very helpful in evaluating how much better we are doing than other states. 

If I jump up into the air, I’m closer to the moon than my friend on the ground but it doesn’t mean that I’m close to the moon.  Without context, its just cheer leading.

posted by: LongJohn47 | November 4, 2013  2:18pm

Matt—you’re mixing apples and oranges.

Additional Medicaid enrollees are 100% paid for by the Feds for three years and then 90% until 2022.

Those that buy private insurance are giving their money to an insurance company, not the government.  So they don’t “pay for” Medicaid recipients in any event.

The need for young people to sign up is entirely contained within the private system.  Their premiums and lower healthcare costs are needed to offset the higher cost of sicker people like Really’s wife . 

So, while these are really early numbers, it is encouraging that over 50% of CT’s enrollees are going private while only 15% are doing so in Washington state. 

I’m sure if those numbers were reversed you’d have Noteworthy and Art V. and the rest of the anti-Obama crowd celebrating at this point.  Their silence is deafening.

posted by: Matt W. | November 4, 2013  4:04pm

Matt W.

My mistake LongJohn. Thanks for the correction.  I think I got off track b/c the article seems to attach some significance to the ratio b/w the two when truth be told, as you said, they are apples to oranges and the fact that more people sign up for one than another is meaningless if the Private Insurers fail to enroll enough “net payers”.  Because truth be told, I would find little comfort in paying higher premiums to the insurer as an alternative to paying higher taxes. 

I guess the truly useful information is the split within the PI enrollees b/w those who are likely to be net payers and net consumers b/c that is what will impact premiums.  We will pay more for the additional Medicaid enrollees regardless.

posted by: Really? | November 4, 2013  4:38pm

And expanding on LongJohn’s points for covering costs of Medicaid…those who don’t buy health insurance and pay the tax annually instead I believe will be contributing to the pool that will help pay for federal costs of insurance…unless it gets raided by the Social Security Trust Fund of course.

posted by: DirtyJobsGUy | November 4, 2013  4:41pm

I buy health insurance (not health care) for my employees.  And they (and I) pay Medicare taxes.  There is a new tax on health insurance that funds Obamacare subsidies.  And the Medicaid funds come out of deficit spending by the Feds and from higher budgets by states.  So more medicaid spending all comes from guys like us.  (Sorry the so-called middle class has all the money and pays all the bills).  But more medicaid enrollees come at a price.  The state payments to doctors and hospitals are minimal (I can vouch for this).  No professional can survive in business with more than a few Medicaid patients.  More of them and fewer working guys means fewer Docs and specialists.  It will fail.

posted by: dano860 | November 4, 2013  8:09pm

LJ47, I’m not sure that everyone is “anti-Owebama” as much as they are disillusioned about the greatness of government insurance.
My wife, at 57 years of age doesn’t need lactation insurance, prenatal care or anything related to birthing. She had a hysterectomy 37 years ago. Being forced to procure policies that you would never purchase isn’t ‘choice’.
As Christine said months ago, just being a female of child bearing age costs a lot more.  Being a mature female shouldn’t cast more.
This program is without a doubt a method of re-distribution, if the youth don’t sign up it will implode.
We liked our policy but we can’t keep it!

posted by: ASTANVET | November 4, 2013  10:15pm

This is such a joke, while this highly suspect law, unconstitutional regardless on who paid off roberts - while we evaluate the cash flow (redistribution) it is not the path to success - it is not a path to more freedom.  Where are all my pro choice people??? no??? crickets???  I was born a free man - I would like to stay that way - all the bumps and bruises along the way.  I would take messy freedom over this convoluted mess of utopianism ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

posted by: Art Vandelay | November 5, 2013  8:36am

To Really, I hope things turn out well for you. To LongJohn47, yes I agree.  Young people are going to be needed to offset the cost of the old needing healthcare. If young people do not sign on, sooner or later they will be forced into doing so.  I’m sorry, but national socialized medicine is not the answer. Another aspect of national socialized medicine that worries me is the profit incentive for companies to develop new drugs or medical procedures to help save lives. The heart lung machine or drugs like Lipitor would never have developed under national socialized medicine. There would be no incentive to do so.

posted by: dano860 | November 5, 2013  9:23am

Art V, here’s an article from the WSJ, it states exactly what you said. No profit means no investment, innovation will be put on hold.
Venture Capitalism Drop Forcing Medical Device Industry To Adapt.
On the front of its Marketplace section, the Wall Street Journal (11/4, B1, Walker, Subscription Publication) reports that more cautious venture capitalists are posing a challenging to the medical device industry. PricewaterhouseCoopers and National Venture Capital Association data show investment will likely fall to $2.14 billion this year, forcing innovative companies that develop prosthetic hips and other devices to approach potential acquirers earlier than in previous years. Successful companies that become acquisition targets can no longer seek multiple bidders to auction themselves off, reducing their upside potential.

posted by: StevenRosenbaum | November 5, 2013  10:42am

A great article and nifty interactive graphic, BUT:

1) How many of CT’s approximately 350,000 uninsured have enrolled in Obamacare?

2) Of those that have enrolled in Obamacare, what are the demographics?

Many thanks CT News Junkie

posted by: Art Vandelay | November 5, 2013  12:29pm

Here’s something else to think about. Not one country that adopted national socialized medicine that invented life saving drugs or medical procedures. It was all done in the US and countries that had for profit medicine.  At 47 I needed a triple bypass.  If I lived in Candada I’d probably be dead because I needed the procedure immediately.  In Canada I would have been put on a list and would have died waiting.  Be careful what you wish for.  It could happen to your.  Yes more people will now have access to healthcare, but at what cost.  Remember you always have to give up something to get something.  Nothing is for free in this world.

posted by: robn | November 5, 2013  2:03pm

I’m not anti-Obama and I’m pro health care reform, but as I pointed out in the last article on this subject, Washington’s sign up rate is 9 times higher.

CT’s sign up ratio is 1 person per 921

Washington’s sign up ratio is 1 person per 110.

The article graphic is extremely disingenuous and misleading.