Due to an increase in demand, Access Health CT, is extending today’s midnight deadline to purchase insurance to midnight, Saturday, Dec. 17.
It’s the first time Connecticut’s health insurance exchange has extended an enrollment deadline.
In order to have coverage that starts on Jan. 1, individuals were supposed to sign up by midnight tonight, however, the sheer volume of enrollees encouraged exchange officials to extend the deadline by two days.
Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleigh said there’s been a 22 percent increase in call volume over the last seven days when compared to last year. Also web traffic has increased 30 percent over the last seven days, and 26 percent increase in foot traffic in its two storefronts and with their community enrollment partners.
Net enrollment has also increased 4 percent over last year at this same time, Wadleigh said.
New customer volume is also 15 percent higher than last year, he added.
However, there are still about 12,000 customers from last year who lost their plans because an insurance carrier is no longer on the exchange or the plan they had was discontinued. Wadleigh said these individuals will lose coverage on Jan. 1 if they fail to reenroll.
In the fourth year of enrollment, the volume has increased as the “process continues to mature,” Wadleigh said. “Through the election there has been a lot of conversation about customers looking for health insurance so that has helped.”
What about those who are concerned the law will be repealed and they will lose coverage?
President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have talked about repealing the law within the first 100 days of his presidency.
“Right now the law still is that all people across the country and in Connecticut are required to have health insurance and so while change may occur at some point in the future we are still here to help them enroll,” Wadleigh said.
He said about 75 to 85 percent of those who get private plans through the exchange are receiving a subsidy to help offset the monthly premium. He said this year they’re seeing an increase customers who may have purchased their plans outside the exchange in the past look at plans on the exchange because it’s more affordable even without a subsidy.
“We are hearing anecdotally that prices may be more affordable on exchange this year,” Wadleigh said. “What we’re seeing is a very big uptick in customers coming onto Access Health and purchasing insurance who do not qualify for financial help. And so we generally attribute that to price differences off-exchange.”
The call centers and the two storefronts in New Haven and New Britain will be open today until midnight. On Saturday the call center will be open from 10 a.m. until midnight and the stores in New Haven and New Britain will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In order to make sure you are covered by Jan. 1, customers are encouraged to call the center. If customers enroll online Dec. 16 then they will default to a Feb. 1 effective date, according to Wadleigh. He also encouraged customers who call the center to specify that they want a Jan. 1 effective date.
Wadleigh said he made the decision to extend the deadline Thursday after speaking with executives at Anthem and ConnectiCare, the two private insurance companies participating in the individual market on the exchange.
The phone number for the call center is (855) 805-4325.