Providers, Insurers Partnering To Launch Narrow-Network Plans

Across the country, providers and insurers are partnering to launch narrow-network plans. In some cases, these healthcare systems and insurers will offer the narrow-network plans on state exchanges with monthly premiums in line with other exchange options. According to experts, the ACA is driving the shift toward these narrow-network products. Because the health law standardizes health plan benefits and sets caps on out-of-pocket costs, providers and insurers use the networks as a “differentiator.” Experts say it will take “unique and appealing plan benefits and participating providers to attract consumers who are accustomed to broader choices of hospitals and doctors.”

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Insurance Exchanges Matter for those with Coverage through their Employers

Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is intended to extend coverage to the uninsured, small businesses, and individuals buying their own plans.  But, Kevin Counihan, CEO of Connecticut’s exchange, Access Health, recently stated that the exchange could serve others, too.  According to Counihan, changes in the health insurance market could mean that the exchanges may soon become relevant to those individuals who get coverage through their employers, calling it the “401K-ing of health insurance.”  Similarly to companies transitioning from offering pensions with benefits to giving employees a fixed amount of money to invest for retirement, companies may approach health benefits by giving employees a fixed amount of money and then allowing them to buy what they want on the exchange.

In order for this change to take place, health insurance exchanges, both private and publicly run, must exist and allow customers to comparison-shop.  However, individuals will need to be well educated about all their options so that they can make the best decisions.  Connecticut’s exchange, Access Health, is currently developing an All-Payer Claims Database, a tool meant to help consumers learn about health insurance costs and quality.

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Enrollment in Connecticut’s Exchange Deemed Successful So Far

Numbers for those enrolling in Connecticut’s insurance exchange, Access Health are higher than expected.  On the exchange’s first day, there were more than 1,930 calls made to the call center and 123,000 visits to its website causing the website to crash several times.  Kevin Counihan, CEO of Connecticut’s exchange program, Access Health, reported that it took about 45 minutes for the average person to complete the application over the phone. Connecticut’s exchange ranks as one of the most expensive in the country, but state officials believe federal subsidies will help off-set the cost.

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Tiptastic Tuesday: Shopping For Health Insurance… Now

Under the Affordable Care Act mandate, consumers will purchase more than just shoes online; now they will browse the internet for health insurance. Individuals who currently lack health coverage, will have the opportunity to use an online marketplace in search of an appropriate plan that meets their needs. With open enrollment beginning October 1st, it is exceptionally important for the consumer to become familiar with the ACA and the specific health insurance options offered under it.

  • There will be three basic tiers of coverage—gold, silver and bronze in addition to different levels of coverage within each tier. It is important the consumer takes their time when weighing options; how much risk are they willing to take (or pay) in case of an illness or injury?
  • Once an appropriate price plan is determined, the next step is finding the proper insurer. Network depth varies by plan, making it important to check what doctors will be available under that precise plan.
  • Remember, senior benefits will not be affected by the ACA’s health insurance marketplace.

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CT Health Exchange Organizes Free Information Sessions

The Connecticut health insurance exchange is holding free events in hopes to educate communities on how the Affordable Care Act operates. Access Health CT, the official health insurance exchange of Connecticut, will provide information on health insurance savings, enrollment and various other topics. It is anticipated more than 340,000 Connecticut residents are planning to participate in the exchange, making free information sessions an effective tool in advising residents of their new insurance options.

  • Click here to find a list of events in your area

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Insurance Premium Rates Under the ACA

Beginning next year, people will have the option to purchase insurance under the official health insurance exchange in Connecticut called, Access Health CT. Enrollment opens October 1st and will offer coverage that will take effect as soon as January 1st.  Customers buying insurance through the exchange will have three plans to choose from—bronze, silver and gold. Premiums vary on benefit and out of pocket costs. Many people who buy insurance through Access Health are expected to qualify for discounted rates, subsidized by the federal government. Subsidies are based on age and income level. An analysis done by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 48 percent of individual adults’ purchasing coverage for themselves will be eligible for subsidies next year. While not everyone is eligible to receive health insurance through Access Health CT, anyone can use the marketplace to find and enroll in a plan that fits their needs.

  • To find out if you qualify for a discount click here
  • To read more and find out what your monthly premiums would be, click here

$67 Million in Federal Grants Awarded Thursday

A substantial $67 million in federal grants were awarded to community organizations Thursday, in efforts to assist people in signing up for coverage on the online health insurance marketplace. The online exchange opens for enrollment October 1st.  These organizations referred to as “navigators” will offer assistance in local communities in an effort to explain coverage to consumers. The best known organizations include; Planned Parenthood, the United Way and the National Urban League.

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