Buyer Beware

October is around the corner and with it will come the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) new health insurance exchanges, offering good, affordable health coverage for millions of uninsured people.

In Connecticut, the new health insurance marketplace, Access Health CT, will offer health plans to the uninsured along with discounts for qualified consumers.  

For people who have been going without coverage, you might say help is on the way.  But wait!   Some insurers and opportunists are already lining up to sell health plans deliberately promoting misinformation and exacerbating public confusion.  In some cases, the product is even misportrayed as part of the ACA.  The Connecticut Insurance Department has issued a press release warning that unlicensed businesses are promoting health plans to consumers via TV and other media.

On another front, some insurers and brokers are rushing to market health plans to individuals and small businesses before they have a chance to fully explore the options on the exchange.   For example, Aetna is marketing its Advantage Plan to individuals, families and the self-employed.  The tag line reads: Right Plan. Right Price. Right Now. Aetna was not kidding when it italicized Right Now on its brochure. The insurer, which recently withdrew its bid to sell plans in Access Health CT, is emphasizing the need to sign up now and save for a year.  Nowhere in the brochure does Aetna spell out that people could wait until Access Health CT opens for enrollment in October and see if they qualify for discounts only offered by the ACA.

To be clear, Aetna is not alone in its aggressive marketing pitch.  We have heard several stories in the past weeks about small businesses being urged by their brokers to sign up now for another year of coverage – even though their coverage year does not end until late 2013.  Again, no factual information is offered about possible new options becoming available via Access Health CT in October.

Right now, close to 350,000 state residents are living without health coverage.  On October 1, 2013 uninsured individuals, families and small businesses (with fewer than 50 employees) can shop for good health plans via Access Health CT for coverage beginning in January 2014.  There is no membership or sign-up fee. All potential customers are qualified for free help from an array of certified online, in-person and insurance broker services available in a multitude of languages via Access Health CT.

There may be good health coverage options, and possible discounts, open to you through the ACA.  We advise everyone struggling with this choice to purchase health coverage with your eyes wide open.  Get all the information – and start by checking out Access Health CT online and call its toll-free number 1-855-805-HEALTH (4325) if you can’t find the answer on the website. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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