February 21, 2024
CT health care open enrollment draws record numbers, officials say

Leaders at Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act exchange reported a record number of sign-ups for health plans during the open enrollment period that ended Monday.

A total of 129,000 people enrolled in a qualified health plan for 2024, compared to 108,142 during last year’s enrollment period. This year’s program ran from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15. Coverage began on Jan. 1 for people who signed up from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. For those who enrolled between Dec. 16 and Jan. 15, coverage starts Feb. 1.

People also signed up for dental coverage and Medicaid during open enrollment, though residents can enroll in Medicaid year-round if they meet eligibility requirements. During the enrollment period, 49,969 people signed up for Medicaid, and 14,050 residents are now enrolled in dental coverage.

Also, the state’s Covered Connecticut Program now has 27,393 people enrolled in qualified health plans. The initiative extends free health insurance through the exchange to individuals and families with qualifying incomes.

Officials with the exchange, known as Access Health CT in Connecticut, said this year’s enrollment was the highest since the marketplace opened in 2013.

“It takes the dedication and hard work of many to achieve these enrollment numbers,” said James Michel, CEO of Access Health. “Our staff, community partners, partnership with the Department of Social Services, Broker Academy brokers and mentors, the legislative community and many others have made this a very successful Open Enrollment.”

Access Health leaders attributed the higher turnout in part to Medicaid “unwinding” — the federal pandemic policy that guaranteed Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents came to an end this year. They also credited a wave of new brokers and outreach efforts.

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“AHCT trained and supported new brokers throughout the state to help residents with the application process. A targeted marketing and outreach campaign helped increase enrollment, with efforts focused on underserved communities and neighborhoods with high populations of uninsured residents,” officials with Access Health said in a statement. “Medicaid Unwinding, which began April 1, 2023, also impacted enrollment for 2024. … Residents no longer eligible for coverage through [Medicaid] may now be eligible for financial help to enroll in a health insurance plan.”

Starting last spring, officials with the exchange held an “expanded number” of outreach and enrollment fairs to aid people affected by Medicaid unwinding.

“Connecticut is really showing that the Affordable Care Act works,” Sen. Matt Lesser said in statement Thursday. “Many people this year discovered they are eligible for completely free coverage under our new Covered CT program, and the cost of coverage has fallen for middle class families thanks to funding from President Joe Biden and our congressional delegation.”

The enrollment increase comes even as the cost of many health plans is set to rise this year. In September, state insurance officials approved increases on individual and group policies. Insurance carriers said they sought the rate hikes due to the rising cost of prescription drugs, increased demand for medical services and the impact of Medicaid unwinding, among other changes.

The state approved an average rate hike of 9.4% on individual health plans and 7.4% on small group policies.