In Their Own Words
In the summer of 2003, thousands of low-income working parents in Connecticut lost HUSKY health care coverage due to state budget cuts. This report follows eight of those families for their first year without HUSKY. Elizabeth, a New Haven substitute teacher, stopped taking the blood pressure medications she couldn't afford and, a few months later, had a heart attack. Monica, a Branford nurse, and her husband now pay one third of their income for private coverage. Sherri, a Stratford paralegal, gained coverage when she married on Valentine's Day only to lose it again when her new husband was laid off from his job.
These are the stories of eight typical HUSKY families as they cope with the loss of health care coverage.
Families with members losing HUSKY were recruited during November and December of 2003. Outreach included a postcard mailed to all 23,000 Connecticut licensed hairdressers and barbers, and flyers mailed to all 1600 Connecticut licensed childcare centers and family homes. Families were also recruited from the current caseload of Student Health Outreach, a nonprofit offering HUSKY application assistance and case management to uninsured Connecticut residents. Notices were published in the CT Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics listserv and CT Health Notes, the listserv of the CT Health Policy Project among others.
Over one hundred families with a member losing HUSKY were identified and screened. Twelve families eventually agreed to participate. Over the year, contact was lost with four families.
Families were interviewed at least monthly from January through December 2004, both by phone and in person. Interviews were semi-structured and conducted by staff of the CT Health Policy Project and Student Health Outreach. Families also received case management including assistance in applying for public programs and accessing care through the safety net.
Three families chose to have their names changed. No other details were changed. Families approved of all pictures and of all the text regarding their story. Nothing was published without their permission and approval.
What You Can Do
In 2005, in response to public pressure, the legislature and the Governor restored eligibility for HUSKY parents.
In 2016, policymakers again cut HUSKY eligibility to almost 19,000 working parents – those cuts were not reversed, and the large majority of those parents are likely uninsured now.
In 2017, policymakers again cut HUSKY for another 13,000 even lower income working parents. Fortunately, those cuts were restored in 2018.