By Lisa Chedekel, Conn. Health I-Team Writer
Connecticut consumers who buy insurance on the new exchange will pay some of the highest premiums in the nation, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Wednesday.
While the report lauds lower-than-expected prices nationwide, it shows that the premium for a benchmark insurance plan, dubbed a “second lowest cost silver plan,” would cost an average of $436 a month in Connecticut – 33 percent higher than the national average, and fourth-highest in the country after Alaska, Mississippi and Wyoming.
State exchanges, including Connecticut's Access Health CT, will offer “bronze,” “silver“ and “gold” policies that vary in coverage, deductibles and co-pays. Consumers can begin to enroll for insurance on Oct. 1, with coverage beginning Jan. 1. Some consumers will be able to qualify for federal tax credits to help defray insurance costs.
The report says most states will offer a variety of plans issued by multiple health insurance carriers. On average, there are eight different insurance issuers participating in each of the 36 exchanges that are being supported or fully run by the federal government. Connecticut consumers, meanwhile, will have a choice of three insurance companies.
In a statement responding to the report, the head of the Connecticut exchange -- Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan – said the organization had “not been able to verify the figures, which indicated that (Connecticut) premiums rank as the 4th highest in the country. “
But he added, “Unfortunately, this is not surprising, given that (Connecticut) currently has the 4th highest medical costs in the U.S., underscoring how various marketplace variables impact premium rates.”
Additionally, he said the state has “a substantial number of mandated benefits when compared to other states, as well as broad provider network requirements, both of which tend to drive higher premiums.”
Counihan added: “We look forward to being part of the dialogue to address these important issues moving forward as we look to make coverage more affordable in our state.”
For information on Connecticut’s insurance marketplace go to: http://www.accesshealthct.com/
To read the report go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/marketplace_premiums_ib_final.pdf
This story was reported under a partnership with the Connecticut Health I-Team (www.c-hit.org).