NEW HAVEN, CT — State officials are urging Connecticut residents in need of health insurance to remember that while Barack Obama will no longer be president in a few months, there is no end in sight for Obamacare.
The fourth annual open enrollment period for healthcare began Nov. 1 and will continue until Jan. 31, 2017.
In order to have coverage by Jan. 1, 2017, with no gaps, people need to enroll by Dec. 15 of this year, according to Access Health CT officials.
Andrea Ravitz, director of marketing for Access Health, said that while there are no definitive numbers yet, business has been brisk the first few days of this year’s open enrollment.
“We are definitely seeing good amounts of traffic,” Ravitz said.
Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh has estimated that between 115,000 and 125,000 will sign up for plans on the exchange.
“Because of the election, it’s definitely not business as usual,’’ Ravitz said. “Just because Obama is leaving office, it doesn’t mean Obamacare is. Insurance law may eventually change due to the election, but that change will take time — so the law we have now is the law we will continue to have for quite some time.”
Open enrollment is the time during which customers can shop for and enroll in health insurance plans for the upcoming year.
For people signing up, exchange plan rates in Connecticut increased an average of 24.8 percent, according to the Insurance Department. But that average increase doesn’t apply to all the plans available on the exchange.
There will be fewer insurance companies selling plans through the state’s individual market. UnitedHealthcare is exiting the market, and HealthyCT will no longer allowed to sell coverage. That means people with plans from those companies will need to pick something else for 2017.
Exchange customers will have a choice between two companies: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and ConnectiCare Benefits. People who buy outside the exchange will have five options: Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, ConnectiCare, and Golden Rule.
Federal law states that everyone has to have insurance coverage, Access Health officials stressed. If someone doesn’t have insurance, they could be subject to fines.
The federal penalty is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child. That fine is up to a maximum of three people in the house or up 2.5 percent of your household income, whichever is higher.
Karen Perez, a manager in the New Haven Access Health office, said people visiting the Church Street office this week have mostly been concerned about the pending increasing in insurance costs.
“How much more am I going to have to pay is the biggest question we’ve been getting,” Perez said. “People are very worried about that — for sure.’’
Perez said they’ve been busy early in the day and right around lunch time at the Church Street office in New Haven.
Depending on income, individuals or families can qualify for federal subsidies to offset the monthly premium payments.
The income limit is 400 percent of the poverty level, or $97,200 for a family of four.
If you’re signing up for a plan on the exchange you’ll need to have a Social Security card, last year’s tax return, employment information, Visa, green card, or other immigration documents and information about your current insurance coverage.
Proper documentation is important, because it determines a consumer’s eligibility for financial help.
AHCT provides many ways for customers to enroll in healthcare, with options in-person, over the phone, and online. People can find this information in the following ways: online at learn.accesshealthct.com; phone at 1-855-805-HEAL (1-855-805-4325) | TTY: 1-855-789-242.
The Access Health CT call center will be open during Open Enrollment Monday — Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
You can also head over to one of these storefront or community enrollment partner locations:
• New Britain – 200 Main Street, Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
• New Haven – 55 Church Street, Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
• East Hartford – East Hartford Public Library, 840 Main Street Hartford, Monday – Thursday 9:30 a.m., – 5 p.m.; Friday 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
• Norwich – United Community & Family Services, 47 Town Street, Monday – Thursday 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Friday 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
• Stamford – Ferguson Library, 1 Public Library Plaza, Stamford, Tuesday – Friday 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Access Health also has a tooldesigned to help you understand the costs you’d likely face in each plan, based on your medical needs.
The Connecticut Insurance Department publishes information on insurance companies through its annual consumer report card.