HARTFORD, Connecticut — The state of Connecticut will not abide by President Barack Obama's request that states allow insurance companies to continue offering health plans that don't meet minimum coverage levels to people who have received cancellation notices.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday that the solution the president offered last week for the millions of Americans facing policy cancellations "won't work in Connecticut."
Malloy said the Department of Insurance and the state's health care exchange, Access Health CT, will work with private insurance carriers to help anyone who is losing their plan and needs help finding alternative coverage. Malloy has also asked Access Health CT to extend the deadline by one week, to Dec. 22, for people to sign up for coverage under the health care exchange and secure coverage for Jan. 1.
"Thankfully for Connecticut, we have a great exchange that is working well," Malloy said.
An analysis compiled by the Department of Insurance found there are 66,437 total individual health insurance policies in Connecticut, representing 108,287 people. Of those, 38,561 individual policies will not be continued in 2014, either by choice or because the policy-holder wasn't given the option by the insurer.
Thirty-six percent of those 38,561 plans, however, would not have been affected by Obama's proposal because they were already grandfathered in, predating the new standards required under the federal Affordable Care Act. Despite being grandfathered, there are still 15,000 plans from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield that are ending. Department of Insurance officials said Blue Cross is re-routing those people into other plans that comply with the ACA's standards for various business reasons. Some of those new plans are more expensive, prompting the bulk of consumer complaints to the agency.
Other insurance companies have allowed their subscribers to renew early, enabling them to keep their plans.
The Department of Insurance said there are now 23,504 policy-holders that didn't accept an alternative plan or choose to renew early. That number will likely change as more people choose to renew early or sign up for coverage from other private plans, including those offered by Access Health CT, or possibly qualify for Medicaid.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a 2014 Republican candidate for governor, had called on Malloy to call a special session of the General Assembly to change state law and allow insurers to keep offering the old plans to policy-holders.
McKinney said he was disappointed by Malloy's decision to stay the course.
"Instead of acting on my call to bring the General Assembly into session to amend state law so that these policies could be continued, the governor rejected my request," McKinney said. "Unfortunately for Governor Malloy, these numbers represent real people. Tens of thousands of people in Connecticut are going to lose their health insurance this year because of Obamacare and Governor Malloy's decision."
State Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said, "by deciding to do nothing, Governor Malloy made sure that those with cancelled policies will face higher costs for less coverage."
But State Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri applauded Malloy's decision.
"Most consumers whose plans have been discontinued will benefit from subsidies that will lower their premiums and out-of-pocket costs by enrolling in a plan through Access Health CT," she said. "They will also gain more comprehensive health care coverage than under the previous plans, whether they enroll through Access Health CT or with a private carrier outside the exchange."