EAST HARTFORD — There’s about a week left to purchase health insurance through Access Health CT and enrollment seems to be keeping pace with last year.
The enrollment deadline was extended to Jan. 15, so anyone who purchases a plan before then will get coverage beginning Feb. 1.
From Nov. 1, 2019 until Jan. 3, 104,799 Connecticut residents have signed up for coverage with one of the two health insurance companies — Anthem Health Plans and ConnectiCare Benefits.
Business was slow Monday afternoon at the Raymond Library in East Hartford, which is one of several walk-in centers where people can get free assistance picking a plan.
“Given the state of the economy and the low unemployment rate,” and the lack of a penalty for not purchasing insurance, “it has an impact on our numbers,” Access Health CT CEO James Michel said.
But he said they expect to enroll close to the same number of customers they enrolled last year.
At the end of open enrollment last year 111,066 Connecticut residents had signed up for coverage. That was about 3,068 fewer enrollees than in 2018.
Access Health CT does compile an annual survey to ascertain why consumers leave the exchange. That survey won’t be completed until later this year.
On Monday, Michel said they are assuming that those who did not come back to purchase insurance through the exchange have found jobs that offer health insurance benefits since that’s what they’ve found in the past.
But he worries that those who don’t sign up before Jan. 15 have the misconception that health insurance is simply unaffordable.
Michel insisted that it’s still affordable coverage being offered because of the federal tax subsidies for those up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Most of the customers who receive federal tax subsidies saw their monthly premiums reduced. Those customers who don’t receive a subsidy saw an average $45 per month increase in their rates, Michel said.
“It may be more affordable than you think,” Michel said.
Last year, 71 percent of those who purchased insurance through the exchange received subsidies.
Enrollment was also extended last year and during that time period 4,081 customers changed their plans and 10,059 customers enrolled in coverage that starts in February.
If consumers purchased a plan before Dec. 15 and decide they don’t like it, they have until Jan. 15 to change their plan. However, they will need to pay the premium amount for the month of January for the first plan they purchased if they decide to switch plans.
This year Access Health CT also focused on the uninsured population.
Connecticut’s uninsured rate was 5.3 percent percent or around 186,000 individuals in 2018. That’s up from an eight-year low of 4.9 percent in 2016.
“We’ve had a very aggressive campaign, knocking on doors, talking to people,” Michel said. “We think that’s going to produce good results.”
Michel said they are still looking at the numbers and will assess how well they did after the end of open enrollment.
Consumers looking to purchase insurance have until Jan. 15 to call Access Health CT at 855-909-2428 or sign up online at accesshealthct.com.