Insurance coverage

Access Health CT Launches Broker Academy to Address Disparities in Insurance Coverage

Photo by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Connecticut enjoys high rates of economic success and some of the best health outcomes in the nation when compared state by state. However, in Connecticut, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.

According to a recent report from Access Health CT, “Reducing the uninsured population is not possible without targeting subpopulations with the largest groups of uninsured. Only 5.9% of Connecticut’s population is uninsured, but this relatively small number hides significant disparities across racial/ethnic groups and across space. »

The report noted that Hispanics in Connecticut were nearly four times more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic whites, and blacks are three times more likely than whites. Blacks and Hispanics have also lost health insurance coverage at a higher rate during the pandemic.

Additionally, while most Connecticut neighborhoods cluster in a range with 2% to 6% uninsured residents, Access Health warned that “many neighborhoods across the state have 20% or more uninsured residents. , several exceed 30%. Invariably, the latter neighborhoods are disproportionately composed of Hispanics or Blacks, as are the cities and towns where the neighborhoods are located.

At a recent press conference, Access Health CT CEO James Michel announced the launch of the Broker Academy, an effort to improve health outcomes for underinsured Connecticut residents by training new brokers. insurance providers with strong community ties to help their neighbors navigate the complexities of finding coverage.

“By engaging members of these underserved communities to become licensed brokers, Access Health CT can build trust by meeting community members where they are, and at the same time create economic benefits in these areas,” said Michael. “A core part of our mission is to reduce the rate of uninsured and address health disparities in Connecticut. The Broker Academy will help us succeed in achieving these goals.

“Expanding access to insurance is vitally important to the citizens of our state,” Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said. “People need to be able to minimize their risk, and this is especially important in underserved communities and for residents who live paycheck to paycheck and simply don’t have the resources to cover an unexpected event out of pocket.”

But explained that US bailout grants will be used to subsidize the Academy, although the exact cost is yet to be determined.

The program’s inaugural class will launch on June 1, and the initial goal will be to provide free training and a laptop to members of the state’s most underinsured communities. The first class will be made up of 100 students from Bridgeport, Harford and New Haven, the least-insured communities in the state. Applicants should have at least a high school diploma or GED, as well as a history of community service to demonstrate ties to the area where they are encouraged to work.

In addition to computer and training, Michel added that those who join the academy will be matched with an experienced broker to act as a mentor. He introduced Cesar Cortez, an Access CT broker who has worked with the organization since 2013 and planned to mentor some of the future Broker Academy students.

“I came from a mentoring program myself,” Cortez said. “When I first came to the state of Connecticut in 2007, I was fortunate to find a Spanish-speaking gentleman who understood where I came from, coming from an underserved community and having no family. nor wealthy friends.He was able to guide me, train me, certify me and hire me, putting me in a position to be in three to four years to build my own successful business.

Cortez explained how his business, focused on providing insurance to his own community, not only provided health care to his neighbors, but let him become a job creator who, in turn, wants to help. others to take up a profession with potentially unlimited income.

Governor Ned Lamont appeared briefly at the end of the press conference and told Cortez, “Cesar, you need to talk to the 5% of people in Connecticut who still don’t have insurance.