Access Health CT insurance enrollment period open through Jan. 15



As the deadline for open enrollment approaches, Chief Executive Officer of Access Health CT, James Michel, stressed the importance of getting health insurance as soon as possible.

"Having a plan to protect you and your family is one of the best investments you can make because anything can happen to anybody at any time,” he said.

Insurance basics

Open enrollment is an annual period between Nov. 1 to Jan. 15 when residents can shop and enroll (or re-enroll) in health insurance with coverage starting Feb. 1. Enrollment applications submitted before Dec. 15 have insurance coverage by Jan. 1.

Access Health CT is the state’s primary resource and marketplace to compare health insurance options with the help of its enrollment specialists and certified insurance brokers, said Michel.

According to the Access Health CT website, its goal is to decrease the uninsured rates in the state by making shopping for insurance more accessible and affordable.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 5.1% of Connecticut residents didn’t have health insurance in 2021, with people of color more likely to be uninsured. For example, 13% of Hispanic individuals in Connecticut are uninsured compared to 3.4% of white residents.

In 2020, New Haven county had an uninsured rate of 5.6%, higher than the state rate, according to the US Census Bureau. Similarly, the census estimated that Meriden had a 4.7% uninsurance rate in 2020.

What to know

According to their website, AHCT works with three insurance carriers: Anthem, ConnectiCare Benefits, Inc., and ConnectiCare Insurance Company, Inc. In addition, AHCT enrolls eligible residents into HUSKY Health, Connecticut's Medicaid program.

Available enrollment plans include qualified health plans (QHP) and stand-alone dental plans (SADP).

To enroll in insurance and apply for financial assistance, consumers must give Access Health their date of birth, social security number, most recent W2 or form 1040, 1099, current insurance coverage, pay stubs/projected income and immigration documents (if applicable).

Access Health CT then verifies and uses the provided information to choose a few plan options to compare and enroll.

For any questions or help, consumers can connect with an enrollment specialist or certified broker through three mediums – online, over the phone or in-person – for free, said outreach coordinator Luiz Irizarry. He also added that Access Health hosts enrollment fairs regularly that are free to the public.

"There’s no stupid questions. All questions are important,” he said. "If you have a question, I’m sure there’s 10 other people behind with the same question."

When choosing a plan, Irizarry recommended anticipating what medical services you may need during the coming year, such as upcoming surgeries or prescription drugs.

Financial assistance

Michel explained that many individuals worry about the cost of insurance and are deterred from getting it. However, more people qualify for financial assistance through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) than in previous years.

He estimated that 85% of Access Health consumers qualify for subsidies.

"We believe [the IRA] is going to help us address health disparities as it was meant to make health insurance more affordable for more people,” Michel said.

Access Health CT has numerous types of financial aid that are picked for the consumer based on their household’s tax information, such as annual and projected income, household size and home address.

For those enrolled in a qualified health plan, Irizarry said that they are eligible to receive one of two financial aids — premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions. The former reduces a consumer’s monthly payment, also known as premium, by receiving a subsidy directly paid to their insurance company. Meanwhile, cost-sharing reductions help lower out-of-pocket deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.

In addition, Irizarry said that individuals who don’t qualify for HUSKY, may be eligible for Covered CT instead. Covered CT is a comprehensive plan where the state pays for a consumer’s insurance and all out-of-pocket costs. Irizarry added that Covered CT also helps with transportation for medical visits.

Undocumented individuals are not eligible to apply for financial assistance or HUSKY. However, Irizarry said that it’s still possible to enroll in health insurance by connecting with insurance brokers and paying the total price.

Why is it important?

From experience, Michel stressed the importance of getting health insurance since it’s a financial safety net if a medical emergency occurs.

He explained that his son was born a month and a half early and kept in the NICU for two weeks.

"When I saw the bill I couldn’t believe how much it cost,” he said. "Imagine if I did not have health insurance, I would have probably lost the house."

CORRECTION: Access Health CT’s insurance carriers were incorrectly identified in an earlier version of the story.

cvillalonga@record-journal.com203-317-2448

Latino Communities Reporter Cris Villalonga-Vivoni is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.



Advertisement

More From This Section