WNPR

President Trump Says Obamacare Will Explode, But Connecticut Official Says Otherwise

Mar 27, 2017

Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have officially failed, and President Donald Trump said he's waiting for the health insurance marketplace to explode. But what will that mean for Connecticut?

Three hundred thousand state residents have insurance this year in Connecticut under the Affordable Care Act -- two-thirds of them through expanded Medicaid, which insures the poor, and one-third through the private insurance marketplace. That's a lot of people who, if you ask the president, are insured by a program that won't be around much longer.

But Jim Wadleigh sees it differently. He looks at Access Health CT, the state's Obamacare exchange that he runs, and he sees a self-sustaining market with insurers offering products that have lowered the state's uninsured rate. Nothing, as he sees it, is exploding anytime soon.

"Connecticut’s exchange continues to be a leader in the country," Wadleigh said.

In fact, Wadleigh anticipates the two remaining insurers who are selling private insurance to individuals through the exchange to file plans this spring -- allowing them to sell again in 2018. That said, he concedes it's not as diverse a market as it was when four insurers offered plans.

"The carriers are risk averse," Wadleigh said. "That's the nature of their business. They are trying to find a way to price their product so that they can break even and preferably they’re in the business to make a little bit of money.”

On the other side of the equation, premiums have gone up considerably on the exchange -- Wadleigh said sometimes as much as 20 percent. That's not necessarily a huge concern for the 75 percent of people who get subsidies to help pay for their private Obamacare insurance, he said.

"When the cost of a plan goes up and your income stays relatively the same, you're going to get more in financial help under the current plan," he said.

But those who make too much to get federal subsidies have to pay the steep increases on their own. And it's those people who may feel as though the program is exploding, even if it isn't.