Health Plan Raises Premiums For Lowest-Income Participants
By MATTHEW STURDEVANT
May 21, 2010
The state-managed Charter Oak Health Plan will increase premiums for the second time this year on June 1 as part of Connecticut's effort to reduce its deficit.
Charter Oak is managed by the state Department of Social Services, which increased premiums in response to "higher-than-anticipated medical costs." The program started easing its customers into price increases with a rate hike on Feb. 1.
The lowest-income customers in the plan will pay 72 percent more in premiums next month than they did in January. Charter Oak had 6,751 people in the program's lowest-income bracket who were paying $75 before a Feb. 1 increase to $93 per month. Those same people will start paying $129 per person, starting in June. The poorest bracket includes those who earn less than 1.5 times the federal poverty level, which is less than $33,075 for a family four, or less than $16,245 for an individual.
The state-subsidized health program has more than 14,500 participants. The plan is for adults ranging from 19 to 64 who don't have children. The program had a sliding price scale with subsidies for anyone who made as much as 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
Charter Oak no longer offers a subsidy or a sliding scale to new enrollees. Anyone who enrolled after May 1 has to pay a uniform rate, which is increasing to $307 per month.
Charter Oak is one of several state health plans, including HUSKY for poor children and families and state-administered general assistance. Another program, SustiNet, is being developed and is expected to provide another insurance option for residents.
Federal health-care reform laws passed in March could change the number of people enrolled in Charter Oak because the lowest-income members might qualify for an expanded federal Medicaid program.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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