Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, released instructions Friday evening for people whose health plans are being discontinued and who want to buy a catastrophic policy for 2014.

Catastrophic plans have lower premiums and higher deductibles than other policies sold on the exchange. They were intended only for people under 30, but the federal government on Thursday night announced an exception for people whose old health plans are being canceled.

Access Health said the new option is available to people whose plans were canceled because they did not comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the federal health law commonly known as Obamacare.

To buy a catastrophic plan, people 30 and older must apply for a hardship exemption and provide proof of dropped coverage, according to Access Health.
People granted exemptions will be given a 60-day “special enrollment” period, in which they can change their plan selection and pick a catastrophic policy.
People must apply for the exemption during the exchange’s open enrollment period, which ends on March 31st.

The policy change announced Thursday night does not change the existing enrollment deadlines for Access Health. To receive coverage that starts Jan. 1, people must apply by Monday and pay their first premium bill by Jan. 10. People can still sign up for insurance through the exchange after Monday, but their coverage will start Feb. 1 at the earliest. The open enrollment period ends March 31.

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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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