Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh at Wednesday's board meeting. Kyle Constable /
Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh Kyle Constable /

With about three weeks left in open enrollment, Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleigh estimates the health insurance exchange will end the enrollment period with about the same number of customers it had at the end of last year’s signup.

Wadleigh said he anticipates 105,000 to 110,000 will be enrolled when the shortened open enrollment ends Dec. 22. As of this week, Wadleigh said, about 101,000 were enrolled.

“I believe that we’ve done a better job getting the word out through social media,” Wadleigh said. “I see our enrollment fairs have had more attendees, the walk-in centers have also had more attendees, and our wait times are less.”

In general, Access Health allows people to have their coverage automatically renewed if they remain eligible for the same type of coverage they have now.

Last week, about 78,500 were automatically re-enrolled. About 12,500 customers couldn’t be automatically enrolled for various reasons (such as their plan no longer exists or they are no longer eligible for subsidies).

As of this week, about 1,000 of the 12,500 had signed up for coverage. The remaining 11,500 are counted in the 101,000 enrollees because Wadleigh expects most of them to eventually sign up for insurance.

If they don’t re-enroll, they will lose coverage at the end of the year.

About 10,600 new customers have enrolled for 2018 and a little more than 4,000 people who were enrolled this year opted out for 2018.

The two insurers that participate on the exchange are Anthem and ConnectiCare, which offer a variety of plans.

Access Health officials decided to close the exchange’s two storefront offices in New Haven and New Britain and to open 10 less-costly enrollment centers across the state, where people can walk-in for help.

The centers are in Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Milford, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, Stamford and Waterbury. Access Health officials have seen the largest traffic at the Danbury and Stamford sites, Wadleigh said.

About 2,800 people have visited the ten sites and nearly 116,600 have called the call center.

“From my perspective, our decision was the right decision to spread out further across the state,” he said.

Access Health officials also scheduled five weekend enrollment fairs, with three still upcoming in New London, Hamden and Willimantic.

Mackenzie is a former health reporter at CT Mirror. Prior to her time at CT Mirror, she covered health care, social services and immigration for the News-Times in Danbury and has more than a decade of reporting experience. She traveled to Uganda for the News-Times to report an award-winning five-part series about a Connecticut doctor's experience in Africa. A native of upstate New York, she started her journalism career at The Recorder in Greenfield, Mass., and worked at Newsday on Long Island for three years. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she wrote her master's thesis about illegal detentions in Haiti's women's prison.

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