Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Victoria Veltri (CTNewsJunkie file photo) Credit: Christine Stuart photo

A report released Wednesday by state officials shows that approximately 18% or 165,000 households in Connecticut with adults under the age of 65 face unaffordable health care costs. 

The report issued by the Office of Health Strategy and the Office of the State Comptroller found that families are spending much more for health care than they should. 

An estimated 42% of households who purchase their insurance through Access Health CT, the state’s insurance exchange, face health care costs that exceed the affordability target while 16% of households with employer-sponsored insurance experience health care costs that exceed the target. 

The state plans to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to make health care less expensive for 35,000 households purchasing their insurance through Access Health CT. It also plans to offer fully subsidized coverage to another 40,000 people in Connecticut.

Depending on family size, residents purchasing health care or paying copays, deductibles and co-insurance, should devote no more than 7% to 11% of their household expenses to health care. That’s the household spending target researchers and state officials used to predict affordability. 

The CT Healthcare Affordability Index is the latest tool that state officials revealed Wednesday to help lower those costs. 

The findings from the affordability study should “outrage people,” Comptroller Kevin Lembo said. 

 “This report presents clear data that shows how issues affording adequate coverage reach every corner of our state and leave thousands behind. The struggles faced by people of color and families with children are especially jarring,” Lembo said. 

He said lawmakers should use this tool to “turn rhetoric into action.” 

However, the regular legislative session is over until February 2022. 

“I agree with the Comptroller in his recognition that Connecticut health care is unaffordable and his admission that Connecticut Democrats have failed to deliver on the promise of affordable health care, over a decade after the passage of Affordable Care Act. I too hope that this tool will push Connecticut to act,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly said. 

He said the reason health care is unaffordable is because many other things in Connecticut are unaffordable. 

“In Connecticut, under years of Democrat rule income growth has not kept pace with the cost of living. We cannot consider health care to be affordable if purchasing it reduces a family’s ability to pay for food, rent or child care,” Kelly said. 

Lisa Manzer, director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington School of Social Work, who helped create the tool said: “Health care is not affordable if purchasing it reduces a family’s ability to pay rent or buy food for their teenager. Now policymakers have more tools to make their own decisions and address the cost of health care using research and data.”

Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Victoria Veltri said now state officials have the affordability tools they can then apply to future policies. 

“Whether changes are made by administrative or legislative action, we have the data to understand what those changes will mean in people’s lives as they seek the care they need and pay their household bills,” Veltri said. 

The Affordability Index builds upon the Healthscore CT website, which helps consumers see how well health care systems and hospitals score on quality measures ranging from breast and cervical screening to providing timely care.