“Substantial portions” of the website of Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, will be unavailable between 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, and 8 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, because of system maintenance by federal agencies.

That means that people who want to sign up for health insurance that takes effect March 1 will have to complete their applications by 10 a.m. Saturday. Feb. 15 is the deadline for people to enroll in coverage that begins March 1.

Access Health’s storefront enrollment centers in New Britain and New Haven will also be closed Saturday through Monday. The call center will be open (the number is 855-805-4325), but representatives won’t be able to help people enroll in insurance.

People applying for Medicaid can still complete their applications online during the maintenance period.

According to the exchange, the federal Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration will be undergoing their annual system maintenance from Saturday to Tuesday. The exchange relies on data from both agencies to verify identification and determine whether applicants qualify for subsidies to discount the cost of insurance. When the data is unavailable, Connecticut customers can’t determine their eligibility for the subsidies or complete their enrollment in private insurance.

“We are disappointed that federal maintenance procedures are being performed so close to the end of the open enrollment period,” Access Health CEO Kevin Counihan said in a statement. “That being said, we understand that systems maintenance is a necessary process. For this reason, Connecticut will continue to explore ways to become less reliant on the federal hub in order to process applications from consumers who are eager to access quality, affordable healthcare coverage.”

During the maintenance period, people will still be able to create accounts and shop anonymously through the exchange’s website, but they would need to return to the website after Feb. 18 to complete the enrollment process. For people who sign up for coverage after Feb. 15, the earliest they can get coverage is April 1.

The deadline for enrolling in private insurance through the exchange is 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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