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Access Health CT CEO, James Wadleigh Dropping Retail Locations in New Haven and New Britain

Kyle Constable ctmirror.org

HARTFORD: Facing a shortened enrollment period, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange announced Wednesday it plans to scale back its two existing storefronts and redeploy resources to broaden its reach.

The decision comes as the exchange, Access Health CT, remains stuck in a rut created by months of uncertainty at the national level. The exchange is anxiously awaiting a critical decision from the White House that will influence whether the individual marketplace’s two insurers will offer plans again next year.

The six-week open enrollment period to buy health insurance plans through the exchange for next year begins Nov. 1. The exchange currently has about 100,000 people enrolled.

The uncertainty over whether any insurers will remain, coupled with an enrollment period that is half the length it has been in previous years, has left the exchange’s hands tied this summer in its preparation for its enrollment push later this year.

Still, the exchange is working to make what decisions it can now – including a change in strategy on its physical presence. While many customers enroll in the exchange using the Access Health website, some choose to do so in its storefronts in New Haven and New Britain.

Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh said the change in the length of the open enrollment period necessitates closing the existing storefronts to allow resources to be spread more broadly. The agency plans to establish a presence in 10 less costly locations across the state.

“It is not a retreat,” Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh said. “It takes a lot of resources to be able to operate those storefronts for that period of time. And we’ve had a lot of conversions around, we think we can, based on the enrollment numbers, have a much better impact across the state of Connecticut taking those resources and spreading them around in those 10 locations.”

Andrea Ravitz, marketing and sales director at Access Health, said the exchange plans to maintain a presence in New Haven and New Britain while seeking out eight other locations based on customer data collected over the past four years.

The exchange said it will seek potential sites at community health centers, libraries, hospitals and family center.