Residents can expect to see more from the state’s health insurance marketplace over the next two months as officials with Access Health Connecticut look to make the public aware of the open enrollment period.
The open enrollment period for the marketplace, which allows individuals and families to purchase insurance policies, begins Wednesday and runs through Dec. 22.
The open enrollment period comes amid uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act, which mandates legal residents to have insurance, and Andrea Ravitz, marketing director of Access Health, said she is worried that could lead to lower participation in the marketplace this year.
“To say that I’m not concerned would be a lie,” Ravitz said. Her concern is compounded by the shortened enrollment period this year, which will require residents to have a policy in place before the start of the year.
Enrollment in past years remained open until mid-January or later, allowing residents to purchase insurance even after the change in year. Ravitz said the shortened period this year means all policies will begin Jan. 1, but it also means less time for residents to comply with the mandate and avoid the $600 per person penalty for not having insurance.
“This gives some stability for the 12 months of the year for people to be able to enjoy their benefits of coverage,” she said.
Nationally, President Donald Trump’s administration has reduced funding for advertising of the federal marketplace, Healthcare.gov, and the website will not be operational on Sundays. Access Health, Connecticut’s marketplace, operates independently from the federal system, and Ravitz said those same restrictions won’t affect what happens in the state.
Access Health launched a public awareness campaign, which began Monday, and will also provide in-person help at 10 locations, including in New Haven, New Britain and Waterbury.
Several states around the country have struggled maintaining their own marketplaces, particularly amid uncertainty about the future of the ACA. Trump and Congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal key parts of the act, also known as ObamaCare, but have so far been unsuccessful.
ConnectiCare and Anthem remain in Access Health, down from the number of providers in the past, and both insurers will impose hefty increases. The Insurance Department approved a 27.7 percent increase for ConnectiCare policies in the exchange, and a 31.7 percent bump for those from Anthem.
Ravitz also said a recent executive order by Trump to halt subsidies for low-income buyers doesn’t affect Access Health, and eligible Connecticut residents can still receive cost-saving benefits. She estimates that three-fourths of enrollees qualified for some kind of benefit, either a subsidy to reduce premiums or cost sharing to lower out-of-pocket expenses.