Access Health CT, the state’s insurance exchange, has launched a special enrollment period to help people get coverage as the coronavirus crisis shutters businesses across the state, unemployment claims spike, and the demand for testing and treatment soars.
People who are uninsured can sign up for health plans beginning Thursday. The enrollment period runs through April 2. Coverage begins April 1.
“We are experiencing a moment in history that requires flexibility and innovative ways to access health care,” said Access Health CEO James Michel. “By implementing this new special enrollment, we are focusing on the uninsured so they can get covered and stay healthy.”
People who lose a job, move, get married or have a baby – circumstances that are considered “qualifying life events” – can sign up for coverage year-round.
The enrollment period beginning Thursday is meant to help uninsured residents who find themselves needing coverage as the public health crisis sweeps the nation. There are nearly 187,000 uninsured people in Connecticut, according to the most recent Census data.
Two carriers are selling individual policies on the state’s marketplace – Anthem Health Plans and ConnectiCare Benefits, Inc. Those insurers also sell small group plans on the exchange for employers with 50 or fewer workers. The carriers are offering 17 individual plans and 14 small group plans.
People whose income falls below a certain mark (400% of the poverty level) can get a discount on their premiums if they buy coverage through the exchange. The discount comes in the form of a federal tax credit, paid either in advance to the insurance company to supplement the customer’s premiums, or when the person files taxes for the year.
Qualified residents – those who are lawfully present and not incarcerated – can sign up by phone only during the special enrollment period. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number is 855-805-4325.
Access Health officials are asking people to be patient, as high call volumes are possible and the call center is running with limited staff.
“The goal is to slow the spread of the virus and reduce its cost to all Connecticut residents. That means everyone who needs it should get access to covered services and be tested and treated if necessary,” Andrew N. Mais, the state’s insurance commissioner, said. “Insurance will help make that possible. It will also help those who need treatment avoid burdensome medical bills.”