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Connecticut exchange gets cost complaints

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The price tag for health care coverage through Connecticut’s new public exchange seems to be a big concern for many enrollees.

Peter Van Loon, chief operating officer for the exchange, Access Health CT, told members of an exchange strategy committee Thursday that price has been the top complaint since open enrollment began Oct. 1.

“People don’t like the price, which is kind of what we expected,” he said.

Exchange CEO Kevin Counihan has said that Connecticut already has the fourth highest medical costs in the country. But many in the state who seek coverage through the online marketplace are expected to qualify for Medicaid or for the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) premium tax credits.

“The people who see the subsidies, they’re impressed,” Van Loon said.

As of Thursday, 1,847 applications have been processed by Access Health CT. Van Loon said the figure is closely split between people eligible for Medicaid and those signing up for private exchange plans.

Early data have shown that nearly one-third of enrollees in the new insurance marketplace are between 18 and 34 years old. Van Loon said that so far, it doesn’t appear that the enrollees’ age is skewed toward older or younger people, which is important because exchange officials want the risk pool to be balanced.

But Van Loon warned it’s still early in the six-month enrollment period.

“This isn’t a trend line,” he stressed. “It’s a data point.”

Van Loon told the committee he was disappointed by the low number of small businesses signing up for coverage so far. He didn’t mention the number but said “we have to get that up.”

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