Will We Be Able to Afford Health Insurance in Connecticut?

Issues & Policies

The Connecticut legislature’s affinity for more and more mandates is making health insurance even more costly for the state as well as smaller employers.
Despite Connecticut’s ongoing fiscal crisis and still-slow economy, several legislative proposals will cost taxpayers millions and jack up health insurance costs for small businesses.
Some of the bills make health insurance more expensive by requiring health plans to cover additional procedures and treatments.
Under Obamacare, each state has an Essential Health Benefit package that identifies benefits that must be included in health plans. Connecticut set its EBH package years ago.
If the legislature passes any new mandates—additional procedures or services that must be included in health plans—beyond the EBH, the state in some cases will have to pay for that procedure or service.
HB 5233 is one such new mandate that may cost the state more than $1 million in 2018.
While the intent of this bill is certainly laudable—a certain type of breast cancer screening—it’s also very costly.
Considering the current budget situation for the state as well as smaller employers struggling to continue to help pay for their employees’ health insurance, now is not the time to mandate higher costs.
Yet despite its fiscal note, this bill was approved by the Connecticut legislature’s Appropriations Committee.
As amended, HB 6520 similarly increases the cost of health insurance by adding more benefits while capping cost sharing payments (i.e. co-payments and deductibles).
That will only push costs elsewhere—such as, higher premiums or higher costs for other services.

Many lawmakers don’t realize that new mandates hike health insurance costs for smaller employers and individual healthcare customers.

SB 99 is another example of a new mandate that also seeks to go above and beyond the EHB, and will cost the state about $78,000 in 2018.
This bill says that carriers cannot limit the number of diagnostic visits for a mental health diagnosis. (This bill was also sent to the Appropriations Committee.)
Again, both bills have laudable intent but we cannot ignore the financial impact on those who have to buy these plans.
What many don’t realize is that new mandates hike health insurance costs for smaller employers and individual healthcare customers.
If lawmakers keep pushing the cost of health insurance higher, it won't matter what benefits are included in any given plan because no one will be able to afford it in the first place.

More Costs

New mandates are not the only expensive bills under consideration.
SB 373 was just referred to the Appropriations Committee because it's estimated to cost the state $27.5 million in 2018.
This bill would basically prohibit health insurance carriers from making changes to their prescription drug coverage during a plan year, with certain exceptions.
This bill is so costly because it doesn't allow for adjustments for the introduction of generic medicines or other R&D that occur during the plan year.
Especially considering the innovative direction of the State Innovation Model–aiming to find ways to control costs and improve quality, now is not the time to increase costs and place more restrictions on plan innovation.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Jennifer Herz (860.970.4404) | @CBIAjherz


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