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Health Insurance App Gains Popularity

by | Dec 18, 2014 4:00pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Health Care

Need health insurance? There’s an app for that.

A growing number of Connecticut residents are enrolling in coverage through Access Health CT by using their smartphones, according to the marketplace’s leader.

“We see mobile as the future of the way our customers want to be engaged,” Access Health CT Acting CEO James Wadleigh Jr. told members of the marketplace’s board of directors at their meeting Thursday in Hartford.

Access Health CT is the state’s insurance marketplace, created to meet the demands of the Affordable Care Act, which requires all individuals to have health insurance or face penalties.

Between Nov. 15 — when the most recent round of open enrollment began for 2015 coverage — and Dec. 15 the Access Health CT mobile app was downloaded more than 50,000 times, users have downloaded necessary documents from it more than 5,000 times and about 26,000 Access Health CT accounts have been created via mobile devices, Wadleigh said.

So far, 500 customers have enrolled fully in qualified health plans using their phones, he added. Officials said they expect the app to continue to grow in popularity.

“Connecticut is the only state with this capability, allowing customers to purchase their health plans via their telephone,” he said.

The Access Health CT mobile app, which is free to download, at this point can only be used by those enrolling in plans that don’t include a subsidy. Wadleigh said a version for plans with subsidies is slated to roll out within the next month or so.

The app provides information for individuals, families, employees, and employers.

The growing use of it bodes well for Access Health CT’s long-term sustainability, said board member Paul Philpott.

“It’s awesome that we’re providing some extra tools, particularly for people that are going to enroll without a subsidy,” he said.

Regardless of how they choose to enroll — via app, by phone, online, or in person — individuals who wanted coverage to begin or renew Jan. 1 had to enroll by Dec. 15. Those who want coverage to start Feb. 1 have until Jan. 15 to enroll, and those who enroll by Feb. 15 can have coverage start March 1.

The most important upcoming deadline for consumers is Feb. 15. Those who haven’t secured coverage by that date generally can’t buy marketplace health insurance for 2015 unless they experience a major life event that qualifies them for a special enrollment period.

Access Health CT plans increased marketing efforts to ensure state residents are aware of the February deadline, Chief Marketing Officer Jason Madrak said.

As consumers rush to meet the deadlines, the greatest share have opted to enroll in plans offered by ConnectiCare Benefits Inc.

Of those enrolled in plans offered by private carriers, 8,493, or 44 percent, had chosen ConnectiCare as of Dec. 15, according to Access Health CT.

Another 6,069, or 31 percent, enrolled in Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, HealthyCT Inc. had 3,850, or 20 percent, of enrollees, and UnitedHealthcare, the newest company to enter the marketplace, had 990, or 5 percent.

Though the mobile app is gaining popularity, the bulk of enrollments continue to come through Access Health CT’s website, call centers, and two storefronts. They continue to be inundated with consumer inquiries, according to officials.

Since Nov. 15, 4,700 people have visited Access Health CT’s two storefronts in New Britain and New Haven, and 2,745 people have enrolled in coverage at those locations, Madrak said.

“Storefronts continue to be great resources for individuals to go to,” he said. More people who visit the storefronts are enrolling in coverage there, since they’ve become more familiar with the documents and materials they need to bring with them to successfully enroll, he said.

Along with its two storefronts, the marketplace has a dozen sites at partner agencies throughout the state, where consumers also can get in-person, one-on-one assistance.

In addition, “we have been handling a massive amount of calls coming into our call centers,” he said, adding that Access Health CT is training call center operators continually so they are equipped to answer consumers’ questions.

Call centers have fielded more than 95,000 inquiries since Nov. 15, Wadleigh said.

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