Special CT Obamacare enrollment period? Stay tuned

People who didn’t have insurance last year – and didn’t have a valid excuse – will have to pay a fee when they file their taxes. That might prompt them to want to get coverage this year. But for those who haven’t filed their taxes yet, it will be too late, because the sign-up period for individual-market insurance ended Sunday.

That’s led some to urge health insurance exchanges to hold special enrollment periods for people who paid fees for not having insurance on their taxes. The head of Connecticut’s exchange, acting Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleigh, said he’s gotten a number of requests to do so. He said officials will announce a decision at the end of February.

What factors into the decision? In part, he said, it needs to be determined whether the exchange’s vendors can handle it and what changes to Access Health’s system would be required.

Unless Access Health opts for a special enrollment period, people who want to buy private insurance through the exchange during the remainder of this year can only do so if they go through a change in circumstances that affects their coverage, such as losing a job, moving to another state or getting married or divorced. (People who qualify for Medicaid can sign up at any time during the year.)

The exchange might get an influx of customers under a proposal by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to scale back Medicaid eligibility for parents of minor children, which is estimated to cause 34,000 people to lose Medicaid coverage. The proposal is controversial, but if it passes, those parents would qualify for deeply discounted plans through the exchange.

As of Feb. 13 – two days before the end of the enrollment period – 103,007 people signed up for private insurance plans through Access Health. That figure includes 67,120 repeat customers from last year and 35,887 new members. About 78 percent received federal subsidies to discount their coverage.

Among the 35,887 new members as of Feb. 13, 42 percent picked plans offered by ConnectiCare Benefits. Thirty percent selected Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, while 23 percent picked HealthyCT and 4 percent picked UnitedHealthcare.

The exchange also sold 1,565 dental plans and has enrolled 1,148 people in its small-business market.

Access Health officials plan to announce their full enrollment figures Monday.

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