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State gears up for Oct. 2013 health exchange launch

With the state’s Health Insurance Exchange less than a year away from opening enrollment, the Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) hopes to begin reviewing policies and certificates for plans to be offered as part of the exchange this month.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states opting to develop their own health care exchanges must have them in place by Jan. 1, 2014. Connecticut officials are seeking to have their online health insurance portal ready for consumers by October 2013.

In hopes of facilitating a smoother launch, CID requested that insurance carriers planning to offer coverage through the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) file policies and certificates for plans for state approval by the end of November, according to a Nov. 1 bulletin.

“We’re just trying to get a little bit of a jump-start so there will be a smooth transition for when all of these things take effect,” said Mary Ellen Breault, director of the Life and Health division of CID, which is responsible for reviewing all group and individual life, health and annuity insurance contracts available to Connecticut consumers and businesses.

Breault said HIX, a quasi-governmental state agency that will oversee the management of Connecticut’s exchange, will likely issue a request for information in the coming weeks that will provide additional clarity for carriers that may be interested in offering qualified health plans through the exchange.

It is still too early for CID to request that carriers seeking to offer coverage through HIX submit details regarding proposed benefits and rates, Breault said. She said state officials are still awaiting guidance from the federal government that will help them to determine the types of benefits that would be expected to be included in plans listed on the Connecticut exchange.

“Once that guidance comes out, then the carriers can start coming out with the actual plan designs,” Breault said. “But the policy forms – the policies and certificates – we think the carriers can start making those filings now so we’re not flooded next year.”

While CID has no direct jurisdiction over the exchange, it is responsible for approving all insurance policies, benefits and rates available to Connecticut residents and businesses.

As the clock ticks down to Jan. 1, 2014 – when a number of regulatory changes prescribed by the Affordable Care Act take effect – CID anticipates a surge in approval requests for policies that would be included in the exchange as well as for policies that would be sold in the commercial market, Breault said.

CID is requiring that complete contracts be filed for all individual and small group policies issued by carriers on or after Jan. 1, 2014, regardless of whether or not the policies would be offered through HIX, according to the Nov. 1 bulletin.

Policies and certificates to be offered outside of HIX may be filed after November, but they must be filed at least three months before carriers propose to market them to consumers and businesses.

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