ctnewsjunkie file photo
Former Access Health storefront in New Britain (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — It’s the eighth year of open enrollment and nothing fazes the staff at Access Health CT—Connecticut’s health insurance exchange.

Andrea Ravitz, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, said they’ve faced enrollment challenges in the past and they just keep pressing forward.

In 2018, a Texas judge struck down the Affordable Care Act. The appeal of that decision is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Even though the law has been twice upheld by the court there’s a possibility it might get struck down. A hearing in the case is expected to be held on Nov. 10.

The Affordable Care Act and the Texas lawsuit were part of the focus of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s recent confirmation hearing.

But what happens in the courts isn’t on the minds of Access Health CT employees.

“This is not the time for us to hit pause,” Ravitz said. “But to push forward and deal with whatever happens just like everyone else.”

Ravitz said they are having to go back to the first few years of enrollment and explain to a whole new group of people what the exchange is and how it works.

That’s because the number of individuals who lost employer-provided health insurance coverage during the pandemic has grown. Ravitz said there are many newly uninsured who don’t have to wait for open enrollment and can purchase a plan right now through the AHCT website because losing a job is a qualifying life event.

For all other individuals, open enrollment for 2021 begins on Nov. 1.

Anthem and ConnectiCare are the two private insurance carriers who will offer plans on the exchange in 2021.

Earlier this year, the Insurance Department reduced the rate increases each company sought.

The average rate increase for the 22,071 customers covered by Anthem Health Plans was slashed from 9.9% to 1.9% and the average increase for 75,174 ConnectiCare customers was cut from 5.5% to -0.1%.

There are nearly 100,000 people enrolled through Access Health CT. About 881,000 are enrolled in Medicaid.

Consumers looking to purchase a plan through the exchange can start browsing offerings starting today.

Consumers can browse at AccessHealthCT.com

When enrollment begins they will be able to make an appointment at one of six enrollment locations or they can attend an enrollment fair in a virtual environment. Enrollment centers will be located at Project Access, 63 York St., New Haven; and Community Renewal Team, 330 Market St., Hartford. The other cities will be Bridgeport, Stamford, New Britain and Groton, at sites that have yet to be announced.

Also for the first time this year, dedicated Access Health CT representatives at the virtual enrollment fairs will be able to co-browse the website with customers.

In addition to Access Health CT, the two carriers are also helping boost enrollment.

ConnectiCare https://www.connecticare.com/live-well/blog/health-insurance/open-enrollment-is-around-the-corner-get-ready has five physical locations in Farmington, Manchester, Norwalk, Shelton and Waterbury to help with enrollment. The centers are available by appointment only due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Kim Kann, ConnectiCare spokeswoman, said they are doing everything they can to get the word out about enrollment, which ends December 15.

“You need to know what your options are and then know what actions you have to take,” Kann said. 

Anthem said they won’t have any physical enrollment locations, but will be doing video discussions with customers in a “virtual neighborhood.”

“Our virtual neighborhood will be a welcoming, personalized approach to engaging our members to ensure they have what they need during this open enrollment period,” an Anthem spokesman said.