As the state readies for open enrollment for health insurance beginning November 1, those who have lost their jobs or have recently moved to Connecticut can get coverage now through Access Health CT (AHCT).
For those who don’t have a qualifying event for special enrollment—such as getting married, giving birth or adopting a child—open enrollment for 2021 health insurance plans begins Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.
Consumers can begin “window shopping” and comparing plans on Oct. 26 but can’t enroll or re-enroll in coverage until Nov. 1. Open enrollment is for coverage that begins Jan. 1.
As job cuts continue to mount in the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone who loses employer-backed insurance coverage qualifies for special enrollment and has 60 days from the time of their job loss to enroll in a plan offered through the marketplace.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that having and keeping and using health insurance is incredibly important,” said Andrea Ravitz, AHCT’s marketing director. AHCT is closely monitoring reports of layoffs and contacting affected workers as quickly as possible, she said.
“A lot of individuals don’t know that we even exist,” Ravitz said. She said many workers have long held insurance policies through their employers and haven’t needed to secure coverage on their own until now.
This will be the eighth open enrollment for AHCT, which is the insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.
For 2021, the exchange will again offer plans from Anthem and ConnectiCare. Earlier this fall, the state Insurance Department reduced the rate increases each company sought. The average rate increase for Anthem plans will be 1.9%, while ConnectiCare customers will see an average rate decrease of 0.1%.
But consumers should not choose plans based solely on premium price tags, Ravitz said.
“Even if you’re experiencing a decrease in your rate, it doesn’t mean that you’re in the right plan,” she said. The “Compare Plans” tool at accesshealthct.com lets consumers view plans while considering their specific doctors, prescription drugs costs and medical habits, giving them a clearer picture of how much each plan will cost them out of pocket.
Currently, nearly 100,000 people are enrolled in qualified health plans through AHCT, up about 5% from a year ago, and about 700,000 are enrolled in Medicaid plans through the exchange, up roughly 10% from a year ago, according to Ravitz.
In the early days of the pandemic, the state and AHCT announced in March a new special enrollment period during which anyone uninsured could enroll in coverage. That period ran from March 19 through April 2 for coverage that began April 1. Around that time—between March 19 and April 17—5,629 people enrolled in qualified health plans and 26,773 individuals enrolled in Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), according to AHCT.
More than 90% of people who purchased plans through the exchange qualify for financial help or price reductions, she said.
As usual, AHCT will offer consumers multiple ways to connect with licensed brokers who can help them understand plan options: online at accesshealthct.com, by phone at 855-805-4325 and in person.
Six enrollment centers will be open for in-person appointments. Reservations will be required at the sites, which will follow strict COVID safety guidelines, and walk-ins will not be allowed. Individuals who schedule appointments will be contacted by AHCT before their appointment to ensure they have all necessary documents and information they will need to complete their enrollment at their meeting, Ravitz said.
Enrollment centers will be located at Project Access, 63 York St., New Haven; and Community Renewal Team, 330 Market St., Hartford. Others will be in Bridgeport, Stamford, New Britain and Groton.
AHCT also will hold multiple virtual enrollment fairs this year. During those events, if enrollees want, customer service representatives will walk them through the enrollment process through a screen-sharing feature that allows the AHCT representative and consumer to view forms simultaneously.
While most people must wait until Nov. 1 to enroll in plans, enrollment in Medicaid HUSKY and CHIP is open year-round to eligible individuals and families.
For information on health insurance, you can sign up for a healthy chat scheduled for the following days: Nov. 12, 6-7 p.m. in Spanish only; Nov. 18, 3-4 p.m. or Nov. 19, 6-7 p.m.
This story was reported under a partnership with the Connecticut Health I-Team (c-hit.org), a nonprofit news organization dedicated to health reporting.