Older Adults Signing Up For Obamacare In Connecticut
Officials for Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace said Thursday that after the first two weeks of enrollment they’ve seen a lot of “pent up demand” from older individuals who are purchasing plans at a higher rates than people under the age of 55.
Nearly 400 individuals ages 55-64 who enrolled in the exchange between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 qualified for Medicaid because their income was at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and nearly 600 in that same age group have signed up for plans with one of the three private insurance carriers.
“We’ll have to keep track of this one because we want a nice bell curve,” Peter Van Loon, chief operating officer, told the Access Health CT board of directors Thursday at their monthly meeting. A mix of age ranges is necessary to avoid what’s called the death spiral where older sicker individuals purchase plans and drive up its costs.
Of the 3,847 individuals who signed up for coverage, 1,857 qualified for Medicaid, 1,897 signed up for plans with one of the three private insurance carriers, and 93 qualified for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Of the individuals who signed up with private carriers, 772 won’t receive a subsidy and 1,125 will receive a federal subsidy to lower their monthly premium.
In the small business marketplace there were 11 applications representing 47 individuals who finished the application process.
But not all the information has been handed over to the carriers yet, so these individuals who completed the application aren’t technically enrolled in their plan. The information will be transferred to the carriers over the weekend, Van Loon said.
As far as the breakdown of carriers is concerned most of the business in the first two weeks has gone to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield which has about 67 percent of the enrollees. Thirty-one percent have gone to ConnectiCare Benefits, and 2 percent have gone to HealthyCT, the nonprofit “consumer oriented and operated plan.”
Kenneth Lalime, CEO of HealthyCT, told WTIC Thursday that he’s not too concerned about the number of enrollees. He said he understands his company is the new kid on the block and needs to educate consumers about what it means to participate in a nonprofit health insurance company.
Some of the frustration individuals have experienced when enrolling in the exchange has been over the lack of information about whether their doctor is participating in a specific network.
Lalime said they’ve been able to sign up most of the state’s hospitals, and more than 5,000 doctors, and the list is growing every day. He encouraged those who may strike out the first time to come back and check again.
Access Health CT expects to sign up 100,000 individuals by the end of March, which is when the open enrollment period ends. Individuals who want to get coverage on Jan. 1 will need to sign up before Dec. 15.
Meanwhile, over the next few weeks the second phase of the marketing campaign will kick into high gear and the focus will shift from education to enrollment, Jason Madrak, communications director for Access Health CT, told the board.
He said they received 10,000 leads this summer from the outreach events they held in the community and they will begin to follow up on those shortly. The outreach events at local fairs, parades, or concerts created about 1,500 leads per month.
In addition, on Oct. 19 Access Health CT is starting a Hispanic tour and is partnering with Spanish-speaking radio stations to get the message to the Spanish-speaking population in the state.
Insurers are doing their own ad campaigns, too. ConnectiCare is promoting “budget-friendly rates” and extras like a college tuition rewards program in some online ads. HealthyCT is launching a radio and billboard advertising campaign to brand themselves in the Connecticut market. It’s unclear if Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is doing any marketing specifically in Connecticut where they already have a large share of the market.