Connecticut lags behind peer states for health care affordability

 By Jackie Nappo

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We have good news and bad news.   


Let’s start with the good news: Altarum’s Health Care Affordability State Policy Scorecard has been released, and it ranked Connecticut as 10th out of the 42 states and DC that it included in its study. This means that Connecticut is toward the front of the pack nationally when it comes to addressing the high cost of health care in our state. Our advocacy, and that of countless other organizations fighting to lower costs and increase access, is slowly but surely working.  


So, what’s the bad news? Well, it’s complicated. While 10th out of 42 seems like a good statistic, we’re a little disappointed to see it, and here’s why:  we’re lagging behind our peer states (Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, and others) in our mission to make quality and affordable health care a reality for everyone, and that means we still have a lot of work to do.  


The scorecard is complicated, but for any policy nerds out there like us who want to dive into it, here is a link so you can dig deeper.  The long and short of it is this: it measures  states’ performance in four main categories, and then assigns rankings for each category as well as an overall ranking.  Those categories are extending coverage, lowering out of pocket costs, reducing low value care, and curbing excess prices.  


Overall, we scored well. This reflects the fact that in Connecticut we’ve pushed good policies, you’ve advocated and told your stories, and our law makers have listened and taken meaningful action to lower costs and expand coverage.  


Still, many people in our state struggle to afford their health care.  That struggle is reflected in the scorecard where we rank 34th out of the 42 in the curbing health care prices category, mainly because our state’s prices are well above the national median.  


To learn more about the health care affordability problem in our state, you only need to look at the results of a Connecticut specific poll, also conducted by Altarum, which you can find here. In that poll, 50 percent of respondents reported one or more problems with health care affordability in the previous year. These problems ranged from skipping prescription drug doses to delaying or completely avoiding doctor visits or procedures. The same poll showed that 79 percent of respondents were “worried” or “very worried” about affording some aspect of health care, whether that meant prescriptions, a potential accident or illness, or the cost of care when they become older.  


A separate study published by the Commonwealth Fund shows that Connecticut employees, on average, have some of the highest deductibles in the country and contribute a higher dollar amount toward their insurance premiums than employees in other states.  


Here’s some of what we’re working on and have been working on to try and lessen the affordability burden for our friends and neighbors in the state: 

  • Fight for a public option, to give more people in Connecticut access to quality coverage at lower cost 
  • Champion legislation to address the high cost of prescription drugs 
  • Combat insurance industry and hospital consolidation 
  • Push for enhanced subsidies to help people afford better coverage through Access Health CT, Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act marketplace 
  • Protect and expand Medicaid coverage 
  • Highlight the need for consumer relief from high deductible health plans 


In addition, we have supported the development of an affordability standard, to help policy makers make good decisions. 


When Connecticut residents were polled, 80 percent of them agreed or strongly agreed that our system needs to change. We’re incredibly grateful for everyone who has fought alongside us for the gains we have made, but health care is unaffordable for too many people in Connecticut.  We still have a lot of work to do.  and we hope you’ll continue to work with us!   

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