Family Values – a small but significant gap in Connecticut’s health care system

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There are a number of people who cannot get healthcare coverage in Connecticut no matter where they turn: Documented immigrants over 65 years of age who have had green cards for less than 5 years. The people affected by this gap are often parents who have come to be with their children and help raise their grandchildren.

This morning, the Consumer Health Action Network hotline (toll-free 888-873-4585) answered a call from a daughter who had brought her 70-year-old parents to Connecticut. They both have had their green cards for 3 years. She has tried many avenues to get healthcare coverage for them.
· Most private insurers will not look twice at the application when they learn that her parents are over 65 years old. One company that did consider the couple came back with a monthly premium of $1400 for one parent, for coverage that would not address any pre-existing conditions.
· Medicare requires that immigrants hold their green cards for 5 years before they are eligible for coverage.
· Medicaid does not cover anyone over 64 who isn’t eligible for Supplemental Security Income, doesn’t receive Medicare, or hasn’t spent a significant amount on medical expenses already.
· The new Charter Oak Health Plan is designed for 19 to 64 year olds and does not make exceptions to those parameters.

It’s a small gap, frankly, but an important one to fill. Models exist for how to fill this gap (for instance, our neighbor to the South, New York). Let’s get to it and make sure that we make sure that as many of the currently uninsured will be able to get healthcare coverage.
Connie Razza