Open enrollment is coming, and Access Health CT has been busy

By Rosana G. Ferraro |

With open enrollment looming on the horizon, Access Health CT (our state exchange, also known as AHCT) has been ramping up activity.  Open enrollment for individuals and small businesses buying their insurance on Access Health CT is November 1, 2019 to December 15, 2019 this year.

Recently, Access Health CT had both a community conference and a Board of Directors meeting – and both were full of important information for the coming open enrollment season and the future of the state exchange.

More enrollment help is available this year

One key takeaway from all of the information at both the conference and the Board meeting is that Access Health is ramping up it’s in-person enrollment help this coming open enrollment season.  Some examples:

  • 30 enrollment fairs will be held around the state (there were only 11 last year).
  • Three new navigator organizations will be able to help people enroll (the three organizations are the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, Community Renewal Team in Hartford, and New Opportunities in Waterbury).
  • There are two Enrollment Centers (in addition to the three navigator organizations) this enrollment season – the Ferguson Library in Stamford and Raymond Library in East Hartford.
  • Access Health CT plans to experiment with in-home and small business (like barbershops) events this year.
  • In a new pilot program, Access Health CT did home and business canvassing in English and Spanish in Hartford.

Community Conference

The October 16 Community Conference focused on updating and educating those who will be enrolling people into Access Health CT.  This day long event had workshops about outreach strategies for hard to reach communities, understanding other health care coverage, commonly asked questions and best practices, and important changes in 2020.

See the resources from the 2019 Access Health CT Community Conference here (click on the Community Conference 2019 tab)

Board Meeting

At the Board meeting on October 17, AHCT released three reports.  The reports focused on the impact of premium changes for AHCT customers (Consumer Impact Study), the small business side of Access Health CT (SHOP Report), and on the remaining uninsured in the state (Uninsured Research Study).

Consumer Impact Study

According to the Consumer Impact study, about 50% of people who buy coverage through the exchange will see their premiums go down.  This also means, though, that the other half of people who buy coverage through the exchange will see their premiums go up.  Wakeley Consulting, who ran the analysis for the Consumer Impact Study, showed Board members some examples of the impact on different types of consumers with specific scenarios.

You can see more detail of the Consumer Impact Study in the full slide deck from the Access Health CT October 17, 2019 Board Meeting here

Small Business Study

The report on small businesses was done so that Access Health CT can better serve the small business community through their Small Business Health Insurance Options Program (SHOP).  Access Health CT hopes to grow their SHOP through insight gained via this study.  The study identified that roughly 12,000 small businesses with fewer than 20 employees in Connecticut could be in the “sweet spot for Access Health CT.”  The study also notes that an estimated 163,000 small businesses without employees may be potential future customers for the exchange, as well, as they grow and hire employees.

Read more about Access Health’s plans for growing their SHOP here.

Uninsured Study

There are an estimated 187,000 people still uninsured in Connecticut, according to Access Health CT’s recent study.  The latest numbers from the American Community Survey show that Connecticut has an uninsured rate of 5.3% — lower than the previous uninsured rate of 5.5% — breaking from the national trend, where the uninsured rate is rising.

Through their study, which included focus groups, Access Health CT identified nine common reasons for being uninsured:

  • Assume coverage will not be affordable
  • Premium costs appear to be too high because third-party insurance sellers present plan options that do not offer premium assistance
  • Can’t make an additional monthly cost work in their financial reality
  • Have a plan for self-care and they believe health insurance is a “bad deal”
  • Health insurance is seen as a nice-to-have (want), not a must-have (need)
  • Cultural or social norms do not include having health insurance
  • Believe health coverage is not needed
  • Had/have difficulty in getting information, getting insured, and/or staying insured
  • Ineligible for assistance and priced out of the market

Read more about the uninsured and Access Health CT’s study here.

See the full uninsured study report here.

Open enrollment is coming

With open enrollment only days away, Access Health has been busy preparing.  Only time will tell if Access Health CT’s efforts will lead to more people covered.

More on Access Health CT

As open enrollment approaches, health officials use census data to reach uninsured (CT Mirror, Jenna Carlesso, October 29, 2019)

Actuary Breaks Down 2020 Insurance Rate Hikes for Access Health CT Board (CT NewsJunkie, Christine Stuart, October 21, 2019)

Access Health Seeks To Improve Small Business Exchange (CT NewsJunkie, Christine Stuart, October 18, 2019)

See the full slide deck from the Access Health CT October 17, 2019 Board Meeting here

See the resources from the 2019 Access Health CT Community Conference here (click on the Community Conference 2019 tab)