Open enrollment for 2023 health plans on Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act exchange begins Tuesday.
Insurers drew controversy over the summer when they proposed substantial rate increases — an average of 20% — on health plans for next year. The insurance department approved a smaller number, 13% on average (some plans will see more or less). But a range of subsidies are being offered to families and individuals to lower the costs.
Currently, 84% of the 101,285 people enrolled through the exchange, known as Access Health CT, receive some financial assistance for their coverage, officials said. Subsidies offered under the American Rescue Plan Act that were set to expire this year have been extended for another three years.
“Even though rates have gone up, these subsidies really help offset that for the vast majority of our customers,” said Caroline Lee Ruwet, marketing director for Access Health CT. “For those who don’t experience that financial help, the [remaining] 16% of customers, the message is to really shop and compare plans because we have so many different options. It’s the best way to help control costs while still meeting their needs.”
Access Health is offering in-person help, as well as assistance over the phone and online for those interested in signing up or renewing their health insurance. This fall marks the state’s 10th open enrollment period for plans on the exchange.
Here’s what to know about open enrollment.
How long does the enrollment period last?
Open enrollment begins Tuesday and runs through Jan. 15 at midnight.
When does coverage start?
Anyone who signs up between Tuesday and Dec. 15 will have coverage that begins on Jan. 1. Those who sign up from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 will have coverage that starts on Feb. 1.
The plans run through Dec. 31, 2023.
What insurance companies sell policies on the exchange?
Two companies offer individual health plans through the exchange — Anthem Health Plans and ConnectiCare. ConnectiCare sells policies under two different licenses — ConnectiCare Benefits Inc. and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.
Anthem and ConnectiCare Benefits also offer small group plans through the exchange to employers with 50 or fewer workers.
Did the state approve rate hikes this year?
Yes. The average approved increase for 2023 individual health plans is 13%. For small group policies, the insurance department approved an 8% average increase.
The rate changes depend upon the plan. The changes range from a decrease of 6% on certain policies to an increase of 25% on others.
Insurers had requested an average increase of 20% on individual plans and 15% on small group policies, citing the rising cost of medical care and pharmaceuticals as well as delayed care due to the pandemic. At a public hearing in August, consumers, lawmakers, and advocates urged the insurance department to reject the lofty requests.
What subsidies are available?
Financial assistance offered under the American Rescue Plan Act, which was set to expire at the end of 2022, has been extended for three more years.
Many residents who didn’t previously qualify for premium tax credits are eligible, while those who did qualify may see increased benefits. Premium tax credits lower the monthly payment a consumer must make to an insurance company for coverage.
Prior to the rescue plan’s adoption, only people whose household income was at or below 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) were eligible for subsidies. Following its passage, Connecticut residents above that threshold also qualify. For those above 400% of the FPL (income of $54,360 for one person, or $111,000 for a family of four), annual contributions are capped at 8.5%.
The average savings per household with the subsidies was $132 per month, or $1,584 per year, in 2022, Ruwet said.
The state has also established the Covered Connecticut program, which extends free health insurance through the exchange to people and families with qualifying incomes.
Households earning up to and including 175% of the federal poverty level — who do not qualify for Medicaid — are eligible. A family of one at 175% of the FPL will earn $23,782.50 annually, while a family of four will earn $48,562.50 annually during the 2023 plan year.
Households must also have at least one dependent child under 19 to qualify. A child who is 18 must be a full-time student. Eligible households will be enrolled in a silver plan on the exchange.
In 2022, officials added dental benefits and non-emergency medical transportation to the program.
How do I sign up?
Consumers can sign up for health plans online at AccessHealthCT.com or by calling 855-805-4325. They can also enroll at one of the exchange’s in-person locations.
If I’m already enrolled, do I automatically re-enroll for a 2023 plan?
Most current customers — about 80% — will be re-enrolled automatically. Some have opted out of automatic renewal, and others, about 5,500 people, will need to take manual action because their plan is being discontinued in 2023. Those who are unsure about their plan status should contact Access Health CT.
Current enrollees can also change their plans during the enrollment period.
Where can I find enrollment help?
The call center is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and select Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays that the center will be operational are Nov. 19, Dec. 3, Dec. 10, Dec. 18, Jan. 7, and Jan. 14.
The call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Veteran’s Day, the day after Thanksgiving, the day after Christmas and the day after New Year’s Day. It will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but will offer extended hours on Jan. 15 (the last day of open enrollment), from 9 a.m. to midnight.
People who are deaf or hearing impaired may call 855-789-2428.
A list of in-person enrollment locations can be found here. In addition to those sites, Access Health will have in-person help available at the Raymond Library on Main Street in East Hartford (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and the Ferguson Library on Public Library Plaza in Stamford (Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).
Consumers can also live chat with a representative on the Access Health CT website.