HARTFORD, CT — If the Affordable Care Act still exists in a few weeks, Access Health CT (AHCT) officials are making several changes intended to help consumers to find the right health insurance plan.
Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 for those seeking 2018 coverage, and has been extended by a week. It will now end Dec. 22 instead of the previously announced Dec. 15.
But even with the extra week, it will be the shortest open enrollment period since AHCT was created under the Affordable Care Act. Last fall, for instance, consumers had from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31 to enroll in 2017 plans, though they had to enroll by Dec. 15 if they wanted coverage to begin New Year’s Day.
To help people navigate the process, AHCT officials have said that more certified brokers will be available this year to help consumers navigate plan options options. But as of this week, it was unclear how many brokers will be available.
The number of brokers will depend on how many become certified, according to Kathleen Tallarita, manager of government affairs and communications at AHCT. The certification training for brokers is being “pushed out” this week and will run through Nov. 1, she said.
“We hope to have a large participation like we’ve had in previous years, and will share those numbers when available,” she said.
Also, 10 additional enrollment centers will be open this year, where consumers can get free, in-person help during the open enrollment period. Enrollment fairs also will take place in communities statewide, according to Andrea Ravitz, AHCT’s director of marketing and sales.
The exchange’s online and mobile sites have been upgraded as well, officials said, including new tools that will show simplified cost estimation and health care provider information.
Like last year, consumers shopping during this fall’s open enrollment will have Anthem and ConnectiCare Benefits Inc. plans from which to choose. Both had considered leaving AHCT, but this month committed to selling exchange plans.
“We are very pleased that both Anthem and ConnectiCare have decided to stay with us next year so that Connecticut residents can continue to have multiple health insurance plan options,” CEO Jim Wadleigh said in a statement.
Plan price tags continue to rise. For 2018 plans, state insurance regulators have approved premium rate hikes for Anthem and ConnectiCare averaging 31.7 and 27.7 percent, respectively.