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Affordable Care Act Brings Potential Of Insurance Rate Increases To CT Employers

Regular readers of this blog are well aware that we've made an effort to bring news of changes related to the state exchange--now known as Access Health CT, available as soon as we have it. OneDigital is well-regarded as an expert when it comes to Health Care Reform (the record attendance of more than 200 business professionals at our recent Pay or Play Seminar series is evidence of that fact).

I'm happy to say that the work that we have been doing with our partner BlumShapiro was recognized yesterday in The Harford Courant. Business reporter Dan Haar interviewed myself and BlumShapiro Tax Partner Andrew Lattimer, along with Access Health CT spokesman Jason Madrak last week. The following article is the result of that interview.

CourantPhotoAs First Year Of Health Insurance Mandate Nears, Prices Could Shock Connecticut Buyers
Dan Haar

Thousands of Connecticut residents will have a shock this summer when they see the prices for 2014 medical coverage that they’re counting on buying through the newly formed state health insurance exchange.

You might have thought that even though prices are expected to rise sharply across the nation in the state exchanges — which are part of health care reform — Connecticut buyers would get off easy. After all, this state already has many of the coverage mandates driving up rates elsewhere.

Wrong. If you’re an individual or a small business hoping to benefit from the public exchange, which launched a user-friendly web site and took the name Access Health CT this month, you’ll find prices significantly higher than rates for 2013, experts say.

How much higher? No one can say for sure as the plans shape up. OneDigital in Farmington predicts that Connecticut rates for small business group plans will be 20 percent to 25 percent higher than this year’s rates, compared with a jump averaging 35 percent across the nation, said Brian Driscoll, the firm’s chief operating officer.

Individual plans, already thousands of dollars per year, could double in price from this year across the nation, OneDigital predicts — and the company will not make a guess for Connecticut.

OneDigital and West Hartford-based BlumShapiro have combined forces to prepare clients for the new rules, but people are only now waking up to the reality of health reform math — ugly numbers caused by new rules, new fees and old pressures on medical costs.

"We’ve been pretty much telling people for the last couple of years that this was coming," said Andrew Lattimer, a partner at BlumShapiro, an accounting, management and tax consultancy. "Come summertime it’s going to get a lot more traction."

And although there is disagreement about many aspects of health reform, on this issue, everyone sees the same result: higher prices in Connecticut. At least six companies are expected to compete — Aetna, UnitedHealthCare, ConnectiCare, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield and two new entrants, Healthy CT, a non-profit group of providers, and Harvard Pilgrim. Cigna offers plans in the state but has not indicated that it will participate in the exchange.

Read the complete article