December 29th, 2013 | Cross Campus

Final surge in medical coverage sign-ups

In a last-second surge, more than 6,700 Connecticut residents signed up for medical coverage before the Dec. 23 deadline this past Monday in anticipation of the Affordable Care Act which becomes effective Jan. 1.

These last minute buyers packed the two Connecticut storefronts in New Haven and New Britain, setting a daily record for Access Health CT, the state’s independently-run health care exchange. Starting in October, the exchange began offering Medicaid programs and selling private insurance plans with premiums subsidized by the government. Access Health developed an easily accessible website to allow users to compare plans offered from the three participating insurance companies – Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Connecticut, ConnectiCare, and HealthyCT.

In addition to the website offerings, Access Health opened up two retail stores, offering state residents the opportunity to explore their options and sign up for coverage with personal assistance. Connecticut is one of 14 states operating a state health exchange rather than deferring to HealthCare.gov, and it is the only state to offer retail stores.

The Monday push propelled total enrollment for medical coverage to 62,153, registering close to 20 percent of the previously 344,000 uninsured Connecticut residents. Of the 62,153 people who have signed up for coverage in the state thus far, 55 percent – 34,295 citizens – are enrolled in private health insurance plans, while the other 27,858 have signed up for government-funded Medicaid health plans.

In a recent statement, Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said his company was “delighted” to see the high number of Connecticut residents enrolled, but stressed there was much more work to be done.

“Over the remaining three months of open enrollment, we will continue aggressive outreach to enroll even more consumers and small businesses in quality, affordable health care coverage,” Counihan said.

Connecticut residents can continue to enroll in healthcare coverage through the state exchange through March 31, but the starting date for those policies will be pushed to a later date. Those looking to buy health insurance now, for example, have until January 15 to sign up for coverage that will not go into effect until Feb. 1.