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Access Health CT CEO James Wadleigh (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — Enrollment at Access Health CT is off to a stronger start this year than anyone could have predicted.

As of today, 10,157 customers have enrolled in a plan with Anthem Health or ConnectiCare benefits, 37,055 have called the call center for help and 61,877 have visited the website.

That’s nearly 1,500 more customers signing up for plans on the exchange than last year around this same time. Last year, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15, Access Health CT had received 8,800 new customers and fielded roughly 61,700 phone calls.
The increase in enrollment follows what’s happening nationally where roughly 600,000 people selected plans through HealthCare.gov.

“Despite the confusion in the news, we’re seeing lots of consumer engagement this first week and that’s really encouraging,” Access Health CEO James Wadleigh, said. “We are finding the volume of customers renewing into a 2018 policy or buying a new policy is trending 15 percent higher than last year at this time.”

This year there are several opportunities for consumers to sign up and pick a plan, but the enrollment period is much shorter than in previous years.

Connecticut consumers have until Dec. 22 to enroll in a qualified health plan that’s on the exchange.

Only plans offered by Anthem Health and ConnectiCare Benefits on the exchange are eligible for tax credits that will offset the cost of monthly premiums.

The health insurance companies and Access Health CT are offering numerous opportunities to consumers to give them an opportunity to enroll.

This year, Access Health CT, will have 10 enrollment locations where residents can go to get in-person help.

There are enrollment centers located in Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford; Milford, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, Stamford, and Waterbury. All of the locations are open Monday through Friday, but they are closed Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to enrolling directly through Access Health, consumers can call either Anthem Health or ConnectiCare to sign up for a plan, they can enroll online, or they can visit one of ConnectiCare’s four service locations in Manchester and Waterbury or their clinics in Bridgeport and Newington.

ConnectiCare’s service center in Manchester has been doing a brisk business with Medicare Advantage sign ups and may benefit from a contract dispute between Anthem Health Plans and Hartford Healthcare.

Anthem Health Plans and Hartford Healthcare have been unable to negotiate a contract since the last one expired at the end of September, which means its customers are paying out-of-network prices to see their doctors in the Hartford Healthcare network or scrambling to find new doctors.

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ConnectiCare’s service center in Manchester (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

ConnectiCare’s service centers in Manchester and Waterbury are opened 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“We want to be viewed as Connecticut’s health plan and part of that is to connect with people,” Kim Kann, ConnectiCare’s Communications Director, said. “This was a natural extension of our brand.”

There are a total of 20 separate plans being offered in three different metal tiers. A bronze plan may have a higher deductible and lower premiums and a gold plan may have higher premiums and a lower deductible because the plan offers more benefits than a bronze plan.

The general rule of thumb is that bronze plans are geared toward younger, healthier consumers, while older consumers may prefer a gold plan because they visit their doctors more frequently.

The insurance carriers are only able to offer consumers a choice of their plans, but there are 250 insurance brokers able to help consumers pick the right plan for them.

The phone number for Access Health CT is 1-855-805-4325. Online enrollment is also available at www.accesshealthct.com.

For Connecticut consumers who want to know more about Anthem they can visit their website at www.anthem.com. And for more about ConnectiCare Benefits visit www.connecticare.com or www.visitmyconnecticare.com.