Exchange sees 580 applications in 3 days

Five hundred and eighty applications for health insurance were completed and processed in the first three days HealthSource RI, the state’s new health insurance exchange, was open for enrollment.
“We do know we’re getting small businesses,” Christy Ferguson, executive director of HealthSource RI said. She said she has been working with the broker community over the past several weeks to inform them about the options available to small businesses on the exchange. Brokers have shared the information with their clients, who have expressed “tremendous” interest in the exchange, Ferguson said.
“I’ve been really surprised by how receptive the small business community has been,” she said.
Jose Garcia of Garcia Insurance in Central Falls, said that he hasn’t had the chance to visit yet, but once he hires a new employee (his business is currently very small; he is the only employee), he plans to shop for small employer coverage on the exchange. “I believe it’s an excellent and I would love to be part of it,” he said.
But unlike with individual coverage, where there is a set enrollment period on the exchange (Oct. 1 to March 31), businesses will renew their coverage throughout the year. So there won’t be the great push toward enrollment seen on the individual side, Ferguson said, instead businesses will enroll more steadily.
About 4,000 small businesses are up for renewal in January – these businesses will likely be making decisions about whether to obtain small group coverage on the exchange between mid-November and mid-December, Ferguson said.
Going forward, HealthSource RI will continue a strong outreach and marketing campaign targeted at small businesses and will continue to work with the broker community, Ferguson said. The state exchange will also start asking for feedback from customers and potential customers to find out what kind of plans they would like to see on the exchange next year.
Ferguson said she is “cautiously optimistic.” Despite the website capacity issues on the first day of enrollment, she said “things are going pretty much according to plan right now.”
In the first three days of enrollment, HealthSource RI’s contact center received 4,438 calls and 146 in-person visits. Unique visits to the website totaled 26,039 and 2,929 accounts were made in the first three days.
As of 4 p.m. Oct. 3, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, access health CT, had a total of 753 applications processed, 5,094 calls answered, and 82,939 visitors to its website, according to an access health CT press release.

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