On the last day of enrollment on Connecticut’s health insurance exchange there were so many people waiting in line that Access Health CT officials decided to enroll some of them at a later date.
Access Health CT Chief Operating Officer Peter Van Loon said there were about 10,000 people waiting in line physically or virtually and exchange staff got about 5,000 to actually buy a plan or sign up for Medicaid.
“We made them backdated, as if they went through by March 31,” Van Loon told the board Thursday.
When the counting was done about 80,018 had signed up with one of the three private insurance carriers on the exchange. Of those, 61,939 are receiving a tax credit from the federal government and 18,079 have purchased plans that aren’t being subsidized. Another 149,013 individuals were enrolled in Medicaid, which has been expanded to include people who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
There are another 7,000 who signed up for plans, but never paid their first premium so are not counted and are no longer enrolled.
Total enrollment in health insurance plans through the exchange has gone up to 229,031 because there’s been an increase in Medicaid over the past two months. There is no enrollment deadline or period for those enrolling in Medicaid, but those who want to enroll in a private plan through the exchange will have to wait until the new enrollment period, which begins in November.
Van Loon said enrollment in the private insurance plans is expected to go down over the next few months because “people are at the cusp of Medicaid eligibility.” As a result they would come off the private insurance rolls and go onto a government sponsored plan.
“The other aspect is non-payment,” Van Loon said. “We expect people as they move forward to not pay their bills and as a result they will be stricken from the rolls.”
As far as demographics are concerned, Van Loon said there hasn’t been much change since March when it looked like 18-to-34-year-olds waited until the last-minute to enroll.
The 18-to-34-year-old demographic went up one percent to about 25 percent of the total number enrolled in private plans. At the other end of the spectrum the 55-to-64 age group was up around 40 percent in 2013 when enrollment started, but is now down to 30 percent.
But what surprised officials the most was the continued call volume after the end of the enrollment period.
Access Health CT is still receiving 3,000 to 4,000 calls per day.
“It hasn’t gone down appreciably and we don’t think it’s going to be,” Van Loon said.
He said about 50 percent of the calls relate to applications, most of which are Medicaid. Some have questions about how enrollment works.
Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said there continue to be questions because “the administration of this law create a confluence of the new Affordable Care Act rules, IRS rules, insurance rules, SSA rules, and in many instances it’s the grafting of layer and layer of these different rules.” He said sometimes all those rules contradict each other.
Deputy Insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling said there are many people who have questions about the insurance policy they purchased because for many it’s the first time they have insurance.
“What did I just buy? A lot of newly insured people are saying, ‘What is a deductible?’,” Dowling said. “…We see that as a really positive situation. That they’re new consumers, new insurance, newly insured and so I strongly endorse keeping the call center open.”