In recent years, a growing portion of Connecticut's population has gone without health insurance. From 1991 to 1994, the uninsured have increased from 8.8 percent to 12.2 percent of the non-elderly population (representing approximately 333,000 Connecticut residents, according to Census Bureau estimates). During this period, the national growth of the uninsured population averaged slightly above 5.5 percent, while Connecticut's increase was nearly 37 percent, (footnote 1) or second highest in the nation. Only Wyoming fared worse in these years. As a result, the cost of uncompensated care has increased, putting more strain on Connecticut's system of health care finance. In addition, this trend raises serious access issues for a growing number of Connecticut residents.
In order to address these growing problems, the Work Group for Health Care Access for the Uninsured was formed in May of 1996. The work group has a diverse group of members who represent a variety of professional groups with an interest in health care reform. These include state legislators and legislative staff, the State Comptroller and Deputy Comptroller, representatives of Connecticut hospitals, health maintenance organizations, insurance companies, the business community, and advocates for the uninsured. A membership list is attached in Appendix A.
Structure and Scope of this Report
At the June 19, 1996 work group meeting, members asked for information in a number of areas to help them analyze the problem and hopefully recommend one or more consensus solutions. The information requested included Connecticut specific data on: the uninsured and underinsured; how health care is financed, including a break down of health expenditures by category; how the uninsured obtain medical care under the current system; and how uncompensated care is financed. The report that follows will address each of these issues.
In addition, the work group asked for a review of earlier efforts to expand health care access in Connecticut and a comparison of how other states have dealt with this problem. These issues will be reviewed in a separate document that will be distributed to the work group in the near future.
Lastly, work group members also requested specific estimates of what various reform options will cost and the effects these reforms would have on the rest of Connecticut's health care system. At present, specific reform options have not been formulated and thus these important issues will not be addressed in this report.
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