The following is a guest blog post from Stefan Kostolitz, Outreach and Eligibility Associate:
Connecticut’s first open enrollment period for health insurance closed a little over four months ago, at the end of March. Since October 1st of last year, 256,666 residents have enrolled in health insurance through our state insurance marketplace, Access Health CT. Things have since calmed after the hustle and bustle of open enrollment, and Connecticut has taken a look to see how well the state performed since the opening of Access Health CT. Incredibly, the Nutmeg State nearly halved the number of uninsured patients from 7.9% of the state’s population to 4%. That means 138,834 Connecticut residents now have health insurance that didn’t before.
Community Health Center’s staff worked tirelessly to educate and enroll patients and community members in insurance with Access Health CT Plans and Husky/Medicaid. Between October 1st of 2013 and March 31st of this year, CHC’s certified application counselors enrolled 1,709 patients in health insurance. CHC continues to assist patients with health insurance applications, even outside of open enrollment. Connecticut residents can still sign up for Husky/Medicaid at any time or buy a plan through Access Health CT if they experience a “qualifying life event.”
When we heard over 200,000 Connecticut residents had signed up for health insurance state-wide, we were overwhelmed by the enormous number of individuals. To get a better idea of peoples’ experiences, we followed up with some of our patients to share their stories of obtaining coverage.
One patient reported that she was relieved to have Husky/Medicaid insurance. She was previously on a Medicaid/Husky spenddown, a term used by the Department of Social Services (DSS) for the amount of money someone would have to spend on medical expenses before becoming eligible for insurance. The patient’s spenddown was $2,600 – a giant sum that would have to be spent on health needs in just 6 months. Luckily, with the passage of the new health law spend down no longer exists in Connecticut. The financial limit for Husky/Medicaid for adults aged 19-64 has nearly doubled. Now this patient was able to obtain insurance for help paying for doctor’s visits and much-needed medication.
Another patient reported that she feels excited and less stressed to have health insurance. Before, stated the patient, she would hesitate to get medical attention in the event of an emergency. Now, newly covered under Husky, she recently scheduled an appointment at CHC for a check-up and bloodwork. It is clear to see that the Affordable Care Act, together with our state’s community resources, has provided peace of mind to many of our citizens. It is only through these individual stories that we can break down a large statistic – over 200,000 enrolled – and see the individual successes within.