Access Health CT chief says October errors affected 2,400 people
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that Access Health CT is preparing letters to send to 2,400 consumers who signed up for coverage in October but who, because of errors on the website, may have a different plan than they thought they’d bought. In fact, those letters were sent in October.
Washington –- At a forum in Washington Thursday, Kevin J. Counihan, CEO of Connecticut’s health exchange, said he is considering marketing the exchange to other states as “an exchange in a box” that could replace the federal exchanges that more than 30 states are using.
This is not as if Health Access CT has been completely error-free.
Connecticut’s health exchange said Thursday that about 2,400 individuals who signed up for coverage in October who may have had a different plan than they thought they had bought. Those who purchased small business policies were unaffected.
Those individuals received letters asking them to review their benefits and indicate if they wanted to cancel the policies they signed up for within 10 days.
“Our records indicate you recently elected to enroll in health insurance through Access Health CT (AHCT). We are writing to let you know that in this beginning phase of our operations, our website contains some inaccuracies on the shopping screens. We apologize for these inaccuracies and any inconvenience,” the letter said.
Counihan said exchange officials learned Sept. 26, days before the Oct. 1 launch, that there were errors in the information displayed on screens listing plan designs. To address these, he said, officials put warning statements on three pages — those used for browsing plans, plan comparisons and plan summaries. The statements advised people to check plan summaries, which did not include errors.
In addition, people who selected a plan during October received phone calls from the exchange, telling them there were errors in the screens and that they could pick a different plan if they wanted. The pages were corrected Oct. 30.
The exchange did not pass along any information about enrollees to insurance companies until after those calls were made, Counihan said. He also said the Connecticut Insurance Department approved the exchange’s plan to address the issue.
Asked whether officials considered issuing a more explicit warning about the errors, Counihan said he did not recall. “It was obviously an intense time,” he said, adding that perhaps they should have issued a press release.
“We haven’t had issues with people calling and saying they bought the wrong plan,” he said Thursday.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, ConnectiCare and HealthyCT offer individual policies on Connecticut’s exchange.
Karen B. Clarke, vice president of external affairs for HealthyCT, said the company submitted accurate information to Access Health for the website. “When we learned shortly before Oct. 1 that there were inaccuracies, a short-term solution was to include a PDF with correct information, along with Access Health CT’s plan to conduct outreach,” she said in a statement.
Access Health CT has been cited by many — including President Obama — as an example of how the Affordable Care Act “is working for people across the country.”
“Contrary to the GOP talking point — people in Connecticut are signing up for health insurance…” a Democratic National Committee press release said. “One woman who had been paying more than $800 a month for insurance enrolled through the exchange, saving more than $500 on her premiums. “
In Washington Thursday at a conference of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade association for health insurers, Counihan said Access Health CT had a much better rollout than the federal health care exchange that is used by 36 states because he “faced down the [U.S.] Department of Health and Human Services” and resisted making changes the department demanded.
He also said he defied HHS by testing the website’s operation much earlier than the federal government tested its own.
“On Oct. 1, we were pretty confident,” he said.
Staff writer Arielle Levin Becker contributed to this story.
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