Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleign and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman Mackenzie Rigg /
Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleigh and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman Mackenzie Rigg /

In all, 114,134 residents enrolled in private health insurance through the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, during the shortened, seven-week open enrollment period that ended on Dec. 22.

That represents a 2.3 percent increase from 2017, when open enrollment lasted for three months.

“Every open enrollment brings its fair share of opportunities and challenges … To say that this is the most challenging open enrollment we’ve had since 2013 is an understatement,” said Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh at the exchange’s board meeting last week. “During this fifth year, we had new obstacles, a new administration, a shorter enrollment and a harder-to-reach population, and again all the noise and confusion coming out of Washington, D.C.”

Here are some highlights about those who enrolled.

People who pay full price skew younger

Of the total enrollment, 30,507 receive no financial assistance and their average age is 39.3 years old.

The average age for those who get financial assistance — 83,627 residents — is 44.9 years old.

To eligible for financial assistance, residents must earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $48,240 for a single-person household.

The largest group of customers are 55 to 64 years old

This group accounts for 32 percent of the total enrollment.

Their average monthly premiums ranged from $115 to $867 depending on their level of financial help. (This comparison excludes households with more than one enrollee.)

Twenty-three percent are 18 to 34 years old, known as the “young invincibles” — another 1.5 percent are over 65. (Most people in that age group instead pick Medicare, but people who don’t have enough work history to qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A might instead buy private insurance.)

About 380 enrollees are 75 and over.

60 percent of enrollees pay less than $200 a month after available financial aid is applied

The highest proportion — 21.37 percent — are paying on average between $101 and $200. The smallest group — 0.11 percent — are paying on average over $1,750. (This comparison excludes households with more than one enrollee.)

87 percent were automatically re-enrolled

That’s up from 63 percent in 2017; 81 percent in 2016; and 67 percent in 2015. Robert Blundo, the exchange’s director of technical operations and analytics, said this year’s higher rate might mean fewer customers shopped around. Only 18 percent of customers who renewed in 2018 selected a different plan than in the previous year. That is down from 34 percent in 2017.

80,171 renewed their 2017 policies for 2018

In addition the exchange saw 33,963 new customers — bringing it to the 114,134 total. Of the 33,963, about 13,400 were new customers and the rest were transferred from Medicaid programs or had exchange plans before 2017.

Half of the new customers are paying full price for their plans, up from 28 percent in 2017.

The exchange lost 15,284 enrollees. Twenty-three percent enrolled in Medicaid and 8 percent are assumed to have enrolled in Medicare because of their age. Another 23 percent did not renew so they were automatically terminated — 46 percent of the lost enrollees canceled their plans.

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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