Monthly premiums have increased an average of 25 percent and there are 21 fewer insurance plans to choose from on Connecticut’s insurance exchange, but Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh remained positive Thursday about the future of the marketplace.
Enrollment opens on Nov. 1 and Wadleigh estimated they will enroll 115,000 to 125,000 customers this year. Last year about 116,000 residents signed up for plans, but only about 99,038 customers remain.
Wadleigh said traditionally they have a 15 percent attrition rate due to a myriad of reasons. Some customers get jobs that offer health insurance, or leave the state. Others may qualify for Medicaid.
An estimated 53.8 percent of customers were terminated this year because they failed to pay their monthly premiums or provide the income verification documents needed to receive a subsidy.
There are more than 759,000 residents currently receiving Medicaid, according to the Department of Social Services.
Wadleigh said about 60 percent of its customers churn between exchange plans and Medicaid.
Asked if he’s worried about the negative publicity of two carriers leaving the exchange and premium increases, Wadleigh said he’s always worried.
“Healthcare continues to rise at unaffordable rates for everyone,” Wadleigh said in a conference call Thursday with reporters.
Earlier this year, UnitedHealthcare announced it would no longer participate in the exchange and HealthyCT was put under an order of supervision by the Insurance Department and prohibited from selling any new policies or renewing the ones it currently offers.
That left Anthem and ConnectiCare as the only two carriers on the exchange for 2017.
Last month, insurance regulators approved an average 22.4 percent increase for Anthem plans and an average 17.4 percent rate increase for ConnectiCare’s on-exchange rates.
Wadleigh said 75 percent of its customers receive federal tax subsidies to help bring the cost of their monthly premiums down and a recent federal report found 15,000 consumers who purchase their health insurance outside the exchange would benefit from those tax subsidies if they purchased plans on the exchange.
Those who use financial assistance will largely be protected from insurance rate increases, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, because tax credits will increase “in parallel” with premium rates. In a hypothetical scenario in which 2017 rates jumped by 25 percent, the department found 73 percent of current marketplace consumers would still be able to get coverage for less than $75 per month with tax credits.
The HHS data, released in early October, found that 2.5 million people nationwide who buy individual coverage off-exchange may qualify for tax credits.
There also will be 21 fewer plans on the exchange this year, mostly because of the disappearance of UnitedHealthcare and HealthyCT. ConnectiCare also modified its portfolio, resulting in the reduction of four plans and Anthem added one.
That means consumers will be able to choose from 19 different benefit plans at three different medal tiers.
Consumers who already have plans on the exchange will be automatically re-enrolled in their plan if they don’t contact Access Health to change their plan. However, consumers who previously had plans with UnitedHealthcare and HealthyCT will have to shop for new plans.
Last year, about 62.7 percent of consumers did not actively shop for a new plan and simply allowed the plan they had in 2015 roll over.