Just Because You Started An Obamacare Application Doesn't Mean You Finished It

Dec 20, 2013

Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan.
Credit Christine Stuart / CT News Junkie

If you want to be insured under Obamacare come January 1, Monday is your deadline to enroll. But the agency running the program fears that some people may think they've signed up when they actually haven't.

About 47,000 people have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act in the state. But another 26,000 or so have begun an online application and not finished it. And Kevin Counihan, who runs the state's healthcare exchange, said he doesn't want those people to think they're insured when they aren't.

Counihan said, "So we're in the process of sending out letters and also making phone calls to roughly 26,000 applicants just to let them know that they've not completed the application, and they don't have coverage for January 1. If they want coverage for January 1, they have until the 23rd to do so. If they apply after the 23rd, they can apply for February 1 coverage."

Counihan admitted that implementation of the Affordable Care Act will be glitchy, and he hopes these letters, which go out Friday, may help reduce confusion. But once people get the letters and decide to call and enroll, they will have to wait, on average, 20 minutes before someone picks up. It then could take another 45 minutes to complete the enrollment process.

"That's not an acceptable time frame for us," Counihan said.  "And, you know, there's good excuses and bad excuses for things. We could give you a million reasons: the call volume tripled, the complexity of the phone calls. But you know what? It doesn't matter to the people on the end of the phone. And we take responsibility for it. We blew it, and we're in the process of fixing it."

Maximus is the outside vendor running the state's call center. Counihan said the company nearly doubled the number of people taking calls earlier this week to deal with the issue. Asked who will pay for that new staff -- the state, or the company -- Counihan wouldn't say.