Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is enrolling about 1,400 people a day and is on track to have 50,000 to 60,000 people signed up for health care coverage by the end of the year, an official said Tuesday.

Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, the state’s exchange, said about 20,000 people have signed up for private insurance plans through the marketplace, about 70 percent of whom will get federal financial assistance to discount their premiums.

In addition, about 17,000 people have signed up for Medicaid coverage through the exchange, Madrak said.

The approximately 37,000 people signed up for coverage through the exchange marks a nearly 58 percent increase from enrollment as of Dec. 4, the previous figures Access Health reported.

The enrollment figures come as some key deadlines approach for the federal health law known as Obamacare, which created the exchange. People who want to buy private insurance through Access Health and get covered by Jan. 1 must sign up by Monday, Dec. 23.

Jan. 1 is the first date exchange plans will take effect, and the date the state’s Medicaid program will expand to cover more low-income adults who don’t have minor children.

The exchange will continue to accept enrollment for private insurance through March 31, and people can apply for Medicaid at any point in the year. Access Health’s goal is to have 100,000 people signed up for coverage in 2014.

“We are moving along at a very brisk pace as it relates to actually enrolling people in coverage,” Madrak said Tuesday during a meeting of the state’s Health Care Cabinet.

There are multiple ways for people to sign up for coverage through Access Health, including online, through a call center, with people trained to assist in enrollment, and insurance brokers.

Madrak said about a quarter of the sign-ups are coming through brokers. In addition, Access Health has opened two retail storefronts for people to ask questions and sign up. Those sites, in New Haven and New Britain, have been enrolling about 70 people per day, Madrak said. Enrollment events at various locations in the state tend to get about 30 people signed up at a time, he said.

The wait times to reach a person at Access Health’s call center are higher than desirable, Madrak acknowledged, and he said staff is being added to help. As of Thursday, there should be 106 people answering phones, he said. Many of those calling are people who have already enrolled but are waiting for an invoice from the carrier.

As in previous months, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield continues to dominate the exchange market, with 62 percent of customers; 36 percent of enrollees have chosen plans offered by ConnectiCare, while 2 percent are buying plans sold by HealthyCT, a new nonprofit insurer created under a program established under the health law.

About 55 percent of customers have selected the mid-level silver plans, Madrak said. Some of those are people whose incomes are low enough to qualify them for silver plans that come with significantly reduced deductibles and copayments, which will be subsidized by the federal government. Twenty-nine percent of enrollees have picked gold plans, which have the highest premiums but have lower deductibles and copayments than other types of plans, while 14 percent have picked bronze plans, which have the lowest premiums available to most customers and the highest cost-sharing. Two percent of customers have signed up for catastrophic plans, which are available to people under age 30. 

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She 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 caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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