FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- After months of planning, Access Health CT launched its health care exchange Tuesday morning for residents of Fairfield County and all of Connecticut.
Access Health CT reported "robust consumer and small business activity" during its first day of operations, it said in a statement.
One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare,” was that every state was required to set up a health-care exchange by the start of 2014. Connecticut’s version is a quasi-public agency named Access Health CT.
The health-care exchange is an online marketplace, as someone would use for airline tickets or consumer goods. Individuals and families not covered by an employer-offered plan, or small businesses with less than 50 employees can search the marketplace. There they can directly compare rates and coverage from multiple plans offered by multiple companies.
Access Health CT reported Tuesday that in addition to substantial website traffic and large call volumes on its launch day, a total of 167 applications for coverage had been processed as of 4 p.m.
“Our team has been planning for this day so long, it’s incredibly rewarding to see our hard work paying off,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT. “Today was not without its bumps, but as far as launches go for a project of this size, we were pleased.”
As of 4 p.m., the Access Health CT website at www.accesshealthct.com had received 28,280 unique visitors, a volume more than double the typical web traffic seen in an average week. Despite some sporadic issues with web site activity, on average, individuals were being shown pages they requested in roughly 0.5 seconds.
The call center at 1-855-805-4325 received 1,930 calls during the day, with the average call time trending at about 9 minutes.
“We spent better part of the last two months vigorously testing our web site, and ensuring it was ready for these types of volumes on day one," said Jim Wadleigh, CIO of Access Health CT. “We did witness a few issues today which we are actively working to fix, but we were pleased to be able to handle the influx of volume across a diverse array of individual and small business clients.”
Of the 167 applications processed, 83 were for subsidized purchases of commercial insurance products, while 84 were for Medicaid coverage.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, praised the access to affordable health insurance as Access Health CT opened in Connecticut even as debate over the issue led to the shutdown of the federal government.
“The health care exchanges that opened today are, for the first time, providing a marketplace where any American who needs health insurance can buy it,” Himes said. “Despite the dysfunction in Washington, we’re seeing what good government can do when people come together to debate, compromise, and put in place a plan to help the American people.”
For more information or to buy state-based health insurance, visit www.AccessHealthCT.com or call 855-805-4325 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays or from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Access Health CT will ensure that participating health plans meet certain standards and will facilitate competition and choice by rating the quality of each plan. Individuals and families buying coverage through the Exchange may qualify for tax credits on premiums. It will also coordinate eligibility and enrollment with state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs.