The holiday season gives each of us an opportunity to commune with family, friends, and to reflect on what is important in our lives. Life itself is precious, and the gift of good health is an especially coveted bonus. Amidst the hustle and bustle of preparation and celebration, one of this year’s best gifts can’t be found at any retailer. For potentially tens of thousands of Connecticut residents, and millions across America, this year’s best gift is the opportunity to have affordable healthcare.
Like so many other opportunities, this is one some people may have heard about but still aren’t quite sure how to take advantage of. Others simply didn’t get the message. In this age of media overload, misinformation, and preemptory e-mail selection, the idea of comprehensive, affordable healthcare for all may sound too good to be true.
Regardless of the circumstances, change was steadily, and often clumsily taking place within arm’s length of a television screen, phone, or computer. With Connecticut among states leading the nation in establishing a healthcare marketplace, the only question was whether or not its residents would take part in the offer.
As with traditional holiday shopping, savvy consumers know to start the process early. Others get in the mood a little later in the season, and accept the consequences of that decision.
And so it was signing up for healthcare via the Connecticut’s Health Insurance Marketplace, Access Health CT. Some early adopters used the online system, www.accesshealthCT.org with the help of customer service reps, brokers, or in-person assisters.
As the crowd of healthcare shoppers grew and the December 23, 2013 deadline for January 1, 2014 coverage drew closer, there were delays in phone assistance, extended hold times, jammed schedules, and long lines for walk-in appointments. In short, there were lots of people with lots of choices to make and less time in which to do it. Although the process wasn’t always glamorous, as of last week 62,153 Connecticut residents snatched up the deal.
DEADLINES TO REMEMBER
Word to the wise, an after Christmas sale won’t be announced. So you’ll just have to know how to get the deal.
If you missed the first enrollment wave (for coverage by January 1, 2014) sign up enroll by January 15, 2014 for coverage starting February 1. The last chance deadline for healthcare coverage for in 2014 is March 31, 2014. If you miss that date, you’ll miss your chance for coverage for 2014. Notwithstanding an acceptable change in your personal circumstances, the next chance to get health insurance through AccessHealthCT will be in October 2014, when enrollment begins for 2015 healthcare coverage.
WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO EXPECT
You can begin the process by going to the AccessHealthCT.org website, by calling
1-855-805-4325 , Access Health CT’s storefront locations in New Britain and New Haven, Connecticut, or at enrollment events statewide.
Here are a few shopping tips you may find helpful:
- Recognize that the process may take some time. This will help to lower your frustration level.
- Know that help is available. The Access Health CT website will help you to locate assistance by phone or in-person.
- Equip yourself with income information, tax returns and social security numbers for household family members. You’ll need this to complete the application.
- If you choose to go the direct route, call ahead to the Access Health CT storefront locations in either New Britain or New Haven , request an appointment and arrive at least 30 minutes early. (Allow time for parking and wear comfortable shoes.)
- Be patient, polite, and persistent.
- Know that final determinations about insurance coverage and premium payments, if any, will be sent to you by mail.
If you have been shopping for healthcare coverage then you know this opportunity is akin to the sale of the century. There hasn’t been anything like it ever in America. It may not be as socially thrilling as waiting outside in the cold for a PlayStation 4, but the security of knowing that you can access quality, comprehensive healthcare for yourself and those you love, should bring feelings of comfort and joy.