In January, Christian Community Action (CCA) published the findings of a survey of 104 newly insured low-income New Haven residents in its report “What Healthcare Should Be.” The report was designed to identify major issues experienced by those newly insured and open up conversations with people to create a dialogue about Connecticut’s health care policy. It includes personal stories from collected interviews as well as survey results.
“This is what health care should be,” said Ambrose, a resident interviewed in the report.
Ambrose’s wife received health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during her pregnancy and the birth of their son. They experienced no issues with coverage, care, or medications and are thankful for the insurance.
Not every story found in the report was a success: New Haven resident, Laura Torres, did not have access to an interpreter at her doctor’s office. This made communicating about her symptoms quite difficult and may have contributed to the problems she had getting test results and return phone calls from her doctor’s office.
The report reveals some of the successes and challenges that are faced by the newly insured and just how critical consumer voices are to the implementation of health reform in CT:
- Total enrollment in the HUSKY A and D rose from 519,007 in December of 2013 to 625,786 in June of 2014, an increase of 20.6%.
- 75% of respondents said that they had help in signing up for health care coverage. About one-third received help from AHCT assisters and 10% indicated that DSS had provided assistance.
- 80-90% of respondents indicated that they were satisfied with their health care plans and coverage.
- Access to specialists is limited, particularly for people on Medicaid.
- There was significant variation in the amount of time it took a person to get an insurance or HUSKY card after signing up.
- Qualified Health Plans are too expensive for people on limited incomes, even with subsidies. If people are not eligible for HUSKY, they tend to select plans with lower monthly payments and high deductibles. People with chronic diseases then have to pay the full cost of care until they spend their deductible.
- The ACA did not offer any healthcare options for undocumented immigrants so many coverage problems experienced at this clinic are unchanged.
CCA is a faith-based not-for profit ecumenical social service agency that offers services to low-income residents in New Haven and maintains a policy of speaking out on issues that affect families. Residents interviewed were mainly from New Haven and provide a sample of new enrollees in health insurance in CT. The surveys were conducted by members of CCA’s Healthcare Kitchen Cabinet former Access Health CT assisters, college interns and by CCA staff. Most of the surveys were conducted in August and September of 2014.
It is hoped that the information in the report will be utilized by policymakers, advocates, consumers and more to explore what can be done to improve the implementation of the ACA, and achieve the goal of making health care in Connecticut and throughout the country more affordable, more accessible, and of higher quality.
Image by Anoto AB under the creative common license