Office of Health Strategy and Comptroller Lembo Release 2019 Connecticut Self-Sufficiency Standard Report
Report Advances Creation of a Healthcare Affordability Standard for the State
(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS) and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo today released the 2019 Connecticut Self-Sufficiency Standard report. The report examines the costs of basic needs such as housing, food, transportation, childcare, and healthcare in each city and town in the state, then calculates what individuals and families must earn to provide these fundamental supports without any financial assistance.
OHS Executive Director Veltri said, “Connecticut is committed to building a healthcare system that’s affordable, high-quality, and accessible—but those terms mean very different things depending upon your income, your zip code, and your health status. This report helps us understand where we are now so we can enact health policy that works for everyone. Affordable healthcare is a moving target—it’s influenced by the type of health insurance, general wellness, and income level of each individual, but it’s important to note that just last year in a Universal Health Care Foundation survey, half of Connecticut adults reported problems with healthcare affordability. This is an important first step in addressing healthcare affordability and I’m grateful to all of our partners on this project.”
Comptroller Lembo said, “Connecticut families are being forced to make unacceptable choices – between groceries and essential medications or utility bills and potentially life-saving health care screenings. Today’s report reveals what it costs for Connecticut families to afford basic needs without assistance – a tool that we will expand to better understand health care affordability from a household budgetary perspective. Once we can answer essential questions about the cost and affordability of health care, then we can inform rational health care policies.”
The CT 2019 Self-Sufficiency Standard Report was released at a meeting of the Healthcare Affordability Standard Advisory Committee as a first step in their work to develop a healthcare affordability standard—a tool that will calculate what individuals and families throughout the state must earn to afford healthcare without compromising other basic needs. The healthcare affordability standard, expected to launch spring 2020, will use projected healthcare costs to determine the impact of various policy initiatives on residents throughout Connecticut.
The Self-Sufficiency Standard is based on 700 family types in each city and town in Connecticut. The report describes the challenges that prevent economic self-sufficiency. Key points include:
- Between 2005 and 2019 the average self-sufficiency wage for a family of two adults and two children rose by 31% while the cost of healthcare rose by 77%. Median wage increased 21% during the same time.
- Currently, 44-48% of Connecticut households are below the self-sufficiency standard; 25% of those live in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Waterbury.
- Households with children are at a greater risk of not meeting their basic needs and account for more than half of households with inadequate income.
- Structural barriers and discrimination lead to lower average earnings and reduced economic security—a higher rate of income inadequacy is connected to householders with less educational attainment; people of color; women; and families with children.
- Racial wage gaps are significant: the median wage of households of color is only 66% of the median wage of white households.
President of Universal Health Care Foundation Frances Padilla said, “The health care affordability crisis is real and getting worse in Connecticut. The Self-Sufficiency Standard released today provides a dose of reality about what it actually costs to make ends meet in our state. We look forward to the next phase of the project which will focus on giving our policy makers the tools to ensure every resident has access to health care they can afford.”
President and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation Patricia Baker said, “It is critically important that we all have a clear picture of what individuals and families in Connecticut need to meet their needs and stay healthy, and where the gaps are that we as a state need to address. This report identifies troubling disparities, including significant racial wage gaps and higher rates of income inadequacy among people of color. This information can help policymakers better understand the impact of specific proposals they consider and target their efforts to where they can help ensure everyone has the ability to be as healthy as possible.”
Created by Dr. Diana Pearce, the Self-Sufficiency Standard is used in 37 states and is considered a truer measure of economic health than the federal poverty level because it reflects real-world variables including geographic cost-of-living fluctuations and individual-specific situations such as childcare costs and gender and racial wage gaps.
Dr. Pearce is the Director of the Center for Women’s Welfare in Washington, on the faculty at the UW School of Social Work, and has been a visiting scholar and Fulbright Professor. She is a widely-recognized expert on economic inequality and how low-wage employment, homelessness, and welfare reform specifically impact a woman’s ability to reach economic self-sufficiency.
The healthcare affordability standard is supported with funding from the CT Health Foundation and the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut and will be developed in partnership with UConn AIMS.
Communications Director, Connecticut Office of Health Strategy
Communications Director, Office of State Comptroller Kevin Lembo