By Frances G. Padilla
The best interests of consumers and small business prevailed this week when the state senate voted 23 – 12 to pass a proposal requiring Access Health CT, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, to negotiate the price of the plans it sells. Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut applauds the decision and urges the passage of SB-596 in the House, where it is now under consideration.
The federal Affordable Care Act created these consumer-friendly marketplaces to help individuals without insurance and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees shop for quality, affordable health coverage. Access Health CT should do its best to offer health plans at prices that the people it is supposed to serve can afford.
Four health plans, including HealthyCT, a new non-profit insurer starting up in Connecticut, are expected to compete in the marketplace. To-date, Aetna, ConnectiCare and Healthy CT have filed their rates, with a filing from Anthem expected soon. Having four competitors offering coverage in the exchange should encourage price competition, one way to hold costs down. But empowering Access Health CT to actively negotiate health insurance premiums with insurers offering coverage in the new marketplace will go even further toward addressing ongoing, and valid, concerns over affordability. Consumers and small businesses are relying on the marketplace to stick up for their interests and get the best prices possible.
It will be much more difficult to institute active purchasing after the exchange is up and running.
With just four months to go before Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace begins enrolling residents, our state still has a window of opportunity, albeit a narrow one, to do what’s best for residents, helping make sure they can afford the plans on the exchange.
To learn more about what you can do to help go here.
Frances G. Padilla is the president of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.