This guest post is written by Meshie Knight
As health insurance exchanges gear-up to re-open on Saturday, November 15th for the ACA’s second year of enrollment, Connecticut is hoping to enroll about 35,000 uninsured residents — a quarter of the number of people they estimate are uninsured. But there is a problem. According to a national poll released last month by Kaiser Family Foundation, “… the uninsured – are not yet tuned in.” Public education and outreach will be key to increasing enrollment.
In some respects, the second open enrollment will be a continuation of the first one, but consumers need to be mindful of a few things:
- The enrollment period runs from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015
- Current enrollees can make changes to their plan or select a new plan
- Individuals without health insurance can shop for coverage during this period
- People should know that they will automatically be re-enrolled in their plan if they don’t act affirmatively to renew or change coverage by December 15, 2014.
- If a plan is not being offered again in 2015, individuals will be provided the option of a similar plan offered by the insurer
- If the insurer is leaving the non-group market altogether, automatic renewal is not possible and the consumer will need to shop for new coverage
- This year, Connecticut residents can choose from plans offered by Anthem, ConnectiCare, Healthy CT and United Healthcare
- Consumers can apply online, call the Access Health call center at 855-805-4325, use Access Health free mobile application (smartphones and tablets) or receive in-person assistance
- Access Health CT is the only place Connecticut residents can apply for financial assistance from the federal government to help pay for coverage.
Recognizing the importance of informing and educating both uninsured and insured consumers, the Federal government and consumer advocate organizations have started to put together some helpful resources.
This month, a new window-shopping tool was debuted on the federal insurance website giving consumers the first glimpse of health-insurance prices for next year.
Additionally, an initiative of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) called “From Coverage to Care” is helping consumers understand the benefits of health insurance through a visual road map and video series. It will also help them to understand the benefits of their new health coverage and connect to the primary care and the preventive services that are right for them.
Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a new five-minute cartoon video that explains insurance using fun, easy-to-understand scenarios. Health Insurance Explained – The YouToons Have It Covered is a light-hearted treatment of a difficult and important topic, breaking down important insurance concepts, such as premiums, deductibles and provider networks. This video along with a compilation of nearly 300 frequently asked questions, can be found on kff.org’s Understanding Health Insurance web page.
Finally, local resources such as the articles below might also prove helpful as Connecticut consumers make decisions about coverage for 2015:
- Six things to consider when picking your health insurance plan
- Obamacare enrollment, year 2: what you need to know
- A guide to healthcare in Connecticut
- Enrollment begins for year two of Obamacare
Good outreach and education will once again help Connecticut meet its enrollment goal and continue to be a national leader in ensuring its residents have affordable health care!
Meshie Knight is a public policy professional with a passion for and commitment to social justice issues. She is graduate of Howard University and masters degree candidate at Trinity College. Ms. Knight views her work as an opportunity to find practical solutions to improve health and health care for all. Connect with her on Twitter.