Access Health CT has 152,561 enrollees; not clear how many were uninsured

More than 150,000 Connecticut residents have signed up for private insurance plans sold through the state’s health insurance exchange and for Medicaid since Oct. 1, according to Access Health CT, the state’s exchange.

Of the 152,561 enrollees, just under 40 percent -- 60,534 -- signed up for private insurance plans. The other 60 percent will receive Medicaid coverage.

That balance is a reversal of the exchange’s early enrollment trends. Last fall, Connecticut was the only state in the country where more people had used the exchange to sign up for private insurance than Medicaid.

Peter Van Loon, Access Health’s chief operating officer, said Tuesday that the exchange is enrolling about 500 people in private insurance plans and about 2,000 people in Medicaid per day. About two-thirds of the people buying private insurance will receive federal tax credits to subsidize their insurance premiums.

Just over 1,000 people have signed up for coverage through the exchange’s Spanish-language website, which launched late last month.

During a meeting of the state’s Health Care Cabinet Tuesday, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo asked whether the exchange had information about how many enrollees were previously uninsured. The extent to which the new enrollees were previously uninsured or had coverage and are simply buying new plans has become a major unanswered question at both the state and federal level.

Van Loon said exchange officials are uncertain of the reliability of data on applicants' previous coverage because answering the question about it is voluntary and some people who indicated that they had coverage actually did not.

In addition, Van Loon said, the exchange has been pushing off many requests for data because generating a report would require going into the Access Health operating system and would slow down the process for customers. He said the exchange plans to set up a data warehouse in May, which would make queries easier.

Across the country, people have until March 31 to sign up for individual insurance coverage through their states’ exchanges, which were created as part of the federal health law commonly known as Obamacare. People who qualify for Medicaid can enroll at any time.

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About Arielle Levin Becker

Arielle Levin Becker was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on home caretakers from the National Association of Health Journalists. Arielle previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter. She also has covered education and municipal beats for The Courant and for the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, N.J. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University. E-mail her at alevinbecker@ctmirror.org.

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