Office of the State Comptroller - Nancy Wyman
2001 Comptroller's Report on Connecticut's Economic Health
In 1999, Connecticut's non-elderly (under age 65) uninsured population dropped to its lowest level since 1995. The main force behind this change was growth in employment-based insurance coverage. In a tight labor market, it appears more Connecticut employers are providing health coverage to help attract and retain qualified workers. However, despite the state's strong economy, many residents still lack health coverage and the vast majority are from working families.
Health policy analysts warn that the recent gains in employment-based coverage could evaporate in an economic downturn, especially in light of rapidly rising health costs. A recent study by William M. Mercer Incorporated found that health benefit costs rose 8.1 percent in the past year, more than twice the rate of inflation. Next year, premiums are expected to rise even more - an average of 11 percent - driven in part by dramatic increases in the cost of prescription drugs.
To date, many employers have been absorbing the additional costs in an effort to retain employees, but that trend may be changing. If the economy slows, analysts fear that rising costs may cause some employers to drop coverage, especially smaller firms that tend to experience the most dramatic rate hikes. Other firms may pass along rate increases to their employees. As the employees cost of insurance increases, more workers tend to decline offers of health insurance coverage, especially lower wage earners. In the future, this could increase the size of the uninsured population.
According to the Census Bureau, the number of uninsured children in Connecticut has declined in recent years.
This is significant because most of these children were eligible for Medicaid (now called HUSKY Part A) at the time. Under current guidelines, virtually all these children would be eligible for state sponsored coverage under the HUSKY program (Parts A or B).
While progress has been made in recent years, many opportunities for improvement exist. Given the combination of good economic times and the widespread availability of public health insurance programs, too many Connecticut children still lack coverage.