By SUSAN HAIGH
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace on Friday began contacting thousands of people who started, but did not complete, applications for health insurance, reminding the applicants that only a few days remain to get coverage beginning Jan. 1.
Kevin Counihan, chief executive of Access Health CT, said almost 26,000 letters were sent out by overnight mail and phone calls were made, informing individuals about Monday’s looming deadline to ensure coverage that begins with the new year.
“We just want to make sure that those folks understand that they’re not covered for Jan. 1, and we’re doing it through both letters and phone calls,” he said during a conference call with reporters Friday.
Those who enroll after Monday can get insurance coverage beginning Feb. 1. With the new federal health care law championed by President Barack Obama, individuals throughout the country have been selecting insurance plans for the first time from among online exchanges offered in their respective states.
Counihan said some people likely began an application and then discovered they could get insurance elsewhere. But he said he’s concerned that some people may mistakenly believe they signed up for coverage, only to find out they do not have any insurance when they walk into an emergency room on Jan 1.
“We’re just a little nervous,” he said.
As of Friday, Counihan said more than 47,000 people enrolled in health plans. About half have signed up for private insurance coverage while the other half have signed up for government-funded Medicaid coverage.
With Monday’s deadline, Counihan said enrollment spiked more than expected, prompting what he called unacceptable call center wait times of about 20 minutes. He said Maximus Inc., the company hired to operate the call center, expanded staff from 64 to 114 people at the beginning of the week to help address the flood of calls. The process of actually applying for coverage is averaging an additional 45 minutes, making the entire process last a little more than an hour.
Counihan said Access Health made a mistake in projecting the volume of calls. The marketplace had expected the number of calls to hit 4,000 or 4,500 a day as Monday’s deadline approached. Instead, the call center has been receiving about 5,500 to 6,000 calls, he said.
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