The percentage of Connecticut residents without health coverage has dropped by half since 2012, prior to the expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a survey by the state’s health exchange and a Gallup poll that found the state to have one of the nation’s 10 largest reductions.
The election-year news was celebrated Wednesday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Democrats who were early and strong supporters of the Obama administration initiative that is described, praised and panned with the same shorthand, “Obamacare.”
“The news today is a great announcement,” said Wyman, who chairs the board that oversees the state’s insurance exchange, Access Health CT.
Access Health CT says the state’s uninsured rate dropped from 7.9 percent in 2012 to 4 percent. The 2012 number was based a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Access Health’s figure is based on a survey of its customers, but didn’t account for potential changes in other segments of the insurance market, such as coverage provided by employers.
Nationally, the 10 states showing the biggest improvement were those that both embraced the voluntary expansion of Medicaid authorized by the health care law and played a role in running their own insurance marketplaces, Gallup said.
The Connecticut results are better than reported by a Gallup poll published Tuesday. It found a higher rate of uninsured in 2014, but with a similarly dramatic reduction, from 12.3 percent to 7.4 percent, that still put the state among national leaders.
“We have had some naysayers, people who are opposed to Obamacare. But the numbers released today…show us just how important this initiative has been in our state,” Wyman said, standing with Malloy and Kevin Counihan, the chief executive officer of Access Health CT.
“We’ve made more progress than anyone could have possibly imagined we would make in limiting the number of individuals living in our state who have no access to health care,” Malloy said.
He credited the staff of Access Health CT in a way that reflected on his administration.
“I’m just proud to be part of an administration that has delivered on yet another promise,” he said.
When Counihan talked about a longer-term trend that showed the uninsured rate dropping from 12.7 percent in 2010 to 9.6 percent to 8.2 percent and now down to 4 percent, Malloy interjected: “And who was governor during that period?”
Access Health CT enrolled 256,666 residents, nearly 80 percent of whom qualified for the state’s Medicaid coverage, which has wider eligibility rules as part of Obamacare. Slightly more than half — 138,834 — were previously uninsured, leaving the state with 147,166 uninsured residents.
To place the numbers in context, Counihan said even in European nations with nationalized health insurance, the uninsured rate generally stays at 2 percent. He said the state has outperformed Massachusetts, which adopted a similar state program nearly eight years ago under Gov. Mitt Romney.
|CT population||3.59 million|
|Uninsured rate when enrollment began||7.90%|
|Enrolled through Access Health CT||256,666|
|Enrollees previously uninsured||53%|
|Previously uninsured now with coverage||138,834|
|CT residents without insurance||147,166|
|Uninsured rate now||4%|
“If you think about where Massachusetts was back in ’06, it took them over two years to go from 10.7 to 5.8 percent,” he said of the Bay State’s uninsured rate. “So, in essence, we did in one year what took Massachusetts two years.”
Access Health CT had one of the nation’s smoother launches, dodging the flaws that plagued the exchange websites of the U.S. government and several states. It has not been trouble-free, suffering one data breach and a computer glitch that led to the temporary cancellation of 903 policies.