HARTFORD, CT — State officials seem to be having some success in urging Connecticut residents in need of health insurance not to wait to sign up.
Emanuela Cebert, Outreach Director for Access Health CT, told members of the Board of Directors of Access Health on Thursday that open enrollment for healthcare, which began on Nov. 1, “has been very busy.”
“What we have produced in the first three weeks this year we produced in five weeks last year,” Cebert told the board at its November meeting at the Legislative Office Building.
From Nov. 1 to Nov. 15, Access Health CT has received 8,800 new applications; 70,000 current application updates; and received 61,700 phone calls requesting information about health insurance coverage, according to a report submitted to the board.
State officials have been 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 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.
Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh has estimated that between 115,000 and 125,000 will sign up for plans on the exchange.
“Business has definitely been brisk,” Wadleigh told Access Health board directors on Thursday.
So far, 9,455 customers have renewed the coverage they had this year. Also 5,570 new customers have enrolled since Nov. 1. The number of customers expected to passively renew their plans is around 61,460. There are currently 100,275 individuals enrolled with a private insurance company on the exchange.
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.
Robert Blundo, director of Technical Operations & Analytics for Access Health CT, told the directors his analysis of those who have signed up so far shows that the average monthly premium will go up $30 or less a month for 87 percent of customers enrolled in similar products as last year.
Blundo conceded, though, he hadn’t done enough analysis, yet, to determine whether those costs were being lessened by those signing up opting out of certain, more costly insurance coverages, or opting for higher deductibles.
There will be fewer insurance companies selling plans through the state’s individual market. UnitedHealthcare is exiting the market, and HealthyCT is no longer be 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.
Blundo reported that the vast majority of new enrollees — 75 percent — have selected ConnecticutCare.
People who buy outside the exchange will have five options: Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, ConnectiCare, and Golden Rule.
Access Health officials stressed that federal law states that everyone has to have insurance coverage. 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 a home or up to 2.5 percent of your household income, whichever is higher.
Depending on income, individuals or families who purchase their plans on the exchange 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; or by 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.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been corrected to report that Mr. Blundo reported that the vast majority of new enrollees — 75 percent — have selected ConnecticutCare, rather than 87 percent.