WNPR

Obamacare Dropout Rate No Cause For Concern, Says Connecticut Exchange Chief

Jun 14, 2017

The Secretary of Health and Human Services said new data showing people dropping out of coverage under the Affordable Care Act is proof government should step back from health care. But the head of Connecticut’s health care exchange begged to differ. 

HHS Secretary Tom Price made a point this week to call attention to a federal survey which tracks what’s called effectuated enrollment.

It showed that almost two million people across the country chose an Obamacare plan during open enrollment, but then just a few months later, failed to pay their first premium -- meaning, in effect, they dropped out.

In a press release, the secretary claimed this validates the current rethinking of federal policy on health care.

"Many individuals and families across the country are tired of having their health care options dictated to them by Washington, particularly when those limited options are unaffordable," Price said.

"If government is not helping everyone in the country with health care -- who should be, then?” responded Jim Wadleigh, the CEO of Access Health CT, the state’s own Obamacare exchange.

Wadleigh told WNPR this phenomenon of dropout has happened every year in Connecticut.

Generally around 15 percent of those who sign up, in the end, don’t activate their plan.

"Interestingly enough, right now, that number has been a little bit less," Wadleigh said. "We’ve only seen about a ten percent drop at this point in the year."

Access Health CT always attempts to survey every customer who leaves, and Wadleigh said they consistently hear a variety of reasons.

“We find residents are moving out, we find residents get a job that has employer sponsored health care, we find that residents may move into Medicaid,” he said.

But he conceded on one point Price may be right: dollars and cents count. In fact, in a recent survey of 1,000 customers who left Access Health CT, 44 percent said they found the plan they’d signed up for unaffordable.