HARTFORD – With the first phase of enrollment for health insurance coverage via Access Health CT officially ended, administrators of the state’s new health insurance marketplace are touting the number of individuals it has signed up.
However, it is not known at this time how many of those enrollees are workers and others who previously were without health insurance.
“Unfortunately, the application asked the question but it’s not a mandatory question. It’s difficult to ascertain” at this time, explains Kathleen Tallarita, government affairs, public relations and outreach manager at Access Health CT.
“I think we’re reaching a good portion of the uninsured population,” Tallarita adds. “Our goal is to get those who are uninsured insured. We do believe we are hitting that population.”
There remain a substantial number of state residents without health insurance, according to state estimates. Many put the number of uninsured in the state at about 340,000 before October 1, 2013, when enrollment began. Tallarita says she believes that figure was somewhat high, and points to professionally derived estimates that now put the number of Connecticut uninsured prior to October 1 within the 286,000-to-318,000 range.
The primary goal of the Affordable Care Act, which mandates state insurance marketplaces such as Access Health CT, was to make sure uninsured U.S. citizens could obtain insurance coverage. December 23 was the deadline to sign up in order to receive health insurance beginning January 1, 2014.
According to Access Health CT, 62,153 made that deadline in Connecticut. However, that figure is only 21.7 percent (if the low end of Tallarita’s figures is used) of the total number of estimated uninsured residents in the state before enrollment.
Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan acknowledged as much in a statement released December 24, the day after the initial deadline.
“We’re delighted to have enrolled so many Connecticut residents in health care coverage for January 1st; however, our work is far from done,” Counihan said. “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.”
In addition to the unemployed, ACA was intended to bridge the gap in health-care coverage for a worker whose employer does not provide health insurance.
Consumers who have not yet signed up for health insurance still have until March 31 the deadline for the open enrollment period.
While the numbers seem daunting, the first enrollment period established a precedent for the unexpected. At the close of business on December 4 only 23,440 had enrolled for health coverage through Access Health CT. A little over two weeks later, that number had almost tripled, according to Tallarita.
“I think we were pretty pleased to see it get that high [especially] when you think of the holidays and people procrastinating,” Tallarita says. She adds that she believes the state is “trending towards” meeting its 100,000-enrollee marker.
“We had set a goal of reaching 100,000 by March 31,” she says. Enrollment should be viewed as a series of goals achieved over time, and outreach will be ongoing, she says.
“This is not a one-year implementation, but a three-year implementation,” she says, adding, “We’re not backing down from any of our marketing tools. We’re going around to communities three, four, five times a week having enrollment fairs and working with [community leaders and institutions].”
As of January 6, 55 percent of enrollees had signed up for the “Silver” level of coverage, 26 percent for “Gold,” 17 percent for “Bronze” and two percent for “Catastrophic.”