It’s unclear how many residents may have been directed to the Connecticut’s health insurance exchange website from the revamped federal HealthCare.gov website, but what is clear is that enrollment in Connecticut’s exchange continues to grow.
An estimated 23,440 individuals have enrolled in a health insurance plan through Connecticut’s exchange since Oct. 1. That number is expected to increase to 60,000 before the end of the year.
According to officials at Access Health CT, some 14,365 residents enrolled with one of three private insurance carriers and 9,075 had enrolled in Medicaid through the close of business Dec. 4.
But it hasn’t been easy. Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said its been a challenge getting people to understand the difference between Connecticut’s exchange and the beleaguered federal exchange.
He said that recently some customers have asked what happens if there continue to be problems with the federal data hub. He said they want to know if they will be forced to pay the full monthly premium without the subsidy. The advanced premium tax subsidy is expected to lower the monthly premium for individuals and families with incomes under 400 percent of the federal poverty level. The subsidy will be paid by the federal government directly to the insurance carriers.
Counihan said customers are completely “held harmless” and will only be liable for the monthly premium amount after the subsidy is applied.
“It is a liability between the federal government and the carriers,” Counihan told the Access Health CT Board of Directors on Thursday.
According to information distributed at the meeting, an estimated 9,660 of the 14,365 individuals enrolled through the exchange in plans with private carriers will receive a tax subsidy, and an estimated 4,169 will not.
About 40 percent of those enrolled are on Medicaid plans and about 60 percent are enrolled with a private insurance carrier. It continues a trend of more people signing up with private carriers than in Medicaid.
Access Health CT officials predicted that December would be its busiest month. Enrollment in the exchange runs through March 31, but in order to receive coverage by Jan. 1 residents must sign up by Dec. 23.
Of the three private insurance carriers participating, Anthem has about 62 percent of the plans, while ConnectiCare has 36 percent, and HealthyCT has 2 percent.
Peter Van Loon, Access Health CT’s Chief Operating Officer, said about 26 percent of the enrollees thus far were under the age of 35 and about 41 percent were over the age of 55.
He said he expects the number of individuals under the age of 35 will increase with all the outreach the exchange is doing.
Counihan said the number of younger people enrolled has fluctuated, but he stressed that age distribution isn’t as important as some in the national media may be making it out to be.
He said the federal government is providing “rich reinsurnace, risk adjustment programs to help ameliorate potential selection of risks . . . It’s not as if all the plans are flying without a net here.”
He cautioned Access Health CT’s board of directors Thursday to recognize that this is a multi-year enrollment effort and there are protections in place for the plans for adverse selection.
The plans offered on the exchange are divided into tiers. Fourteen percent of enrollees have chosen bronze plans, 55 percent have chosen silver plans, and 29 percent have chosen gold plans, which have higher monthly premiums but lower deductibles. About 2 percent of the enrollees have chosen catastrophic plans, which are only available to individuals under the age of 30.