This is a picture of Staff at the Access Health CT enrollment center in New Britain
Staff at the Access Health CT enrollment center in New Britain preparing for open enrollment, which runs through Jan. 31. Arielle Levin Becker /

The open enrollment period for Connecticut’s health insurance exchange ended with 111,524 people signed up for private health plans – approximately 4,500 fewer than last year.

That’s a 3.9 percent drop in enrollment in individual-market insurance sold through Access Health CT, the marketplace created by the federal health law.

It’s not clear whether that drop is the result of more residents having other types of coverage or whether more people will be uninsured, according to a statement released by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who chairs Access Health’s board.

The open enrollment period occurred amid significant uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act. Officials sought to emphasize that the law had not changed – including the provision requiring nearly all Americans to have coverage – but CEO Jim Wadleigh said last week that confusion about the health law’s future probably played a factor in lagging sign ups.

In statements on the sign-up totals, Wyman and Wadleigh sought to emphasize the fact that the exchange had attracted 13,791 customers who had not signed up through the exchange previously.

“These numbers represent a fairly stable enrollment cycle and demonstrate the importance of the state’s marketplace in getting residents covered,” Wyman said.

“The success story here is that, through the tireless efforts of the AHCT team, we were able to reach, enroll and re-enroll tens of thousands of customers—despite uncertainty about the ACA—and a significant number of these people are new members,” Wadleigh said.

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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