January 8, 2018

Despite challenges, Access Health enrollment ticks up

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Access Health CT CEO James Wadleigh.

Despite myriad challenges created by the market and federal government, Access Health CT's fifth annual enrollment outperformed last year by 2.3 percent, the insurance exchange announced Monday.

Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 22, the state's Affordable Care Act insurance exchange enrolled 114,134 residents in private plans offered by ConnectiCare and Anthem, up from 111,524 last year.

Hurdles to clear this year included higher premiums, a tighter enrollment window, mixed messages from Congress, and the threat of the repeal of a federal individual mandate to purchase health insurance (which officially happened a few days after enrollment ended).

"I viewed this open enrollment as the most challenging one that Access Health has ever had to endure," the exchange's CEO Jim Wadleigh said Monday.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, chair of Access Health's board, said the results "show just how valuable the Affordable Care Act is to hundreds of thousands of residents right here in Connecticut."

Of the total private enrollees, Farmington-based ConnectiCare took the lion's share, at 83,000, while Anthem has 31,000, Wadleigh said.

Nearly three-quarters of those who enrolled did so through the exchange's website.

Now, Access Health must fight to keep those 114,134 people on their books.

Wadleigh said approximately 23,000 still owe verification documents. They will lose coverage if they don't submit that information in the next two months. In addition, customers who don't make their first payment will also lose coverage.

In past years, the exchange has lost about 15 percent of their initial enrollment numbers because of nonpayment.

Premiums this year are 28 to 32 percent higher for individuals and 25 percent higher for small businesses.

Despite that, Wadleigh said exchange staff was surprised it didn't see more movement in the level of plans peopled purchased. The majority stayed on their prior level, or tier, of plan, though there was some buydown from "silver" plans to "bronze" plans.

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