Connecticut residents flocking to health insurance enrollment centers to meet deadline

People on Friday continued to line up in New Haven and New Britain to enroll in health coverage through Connecticut's insurance marketplace before Sunday's deadline.

Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for the state marketplace, said there have been long lines outside Access Health CT's stores in both cities, similar to what happened during the final days of last year's open enrollment.

"It looks like we're selling concert tickets in the morning," he said. "We show up and there's literally a line of people waiting."

Both stores will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, the final day when people can enroll in health insurance plans without being assessed a financial penalty. Meanwhile, Access Health CT's call center will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. until the midnight deadline. People can also enroll online.

Access Health already exceeded its goal of enrolling 70,000 more people. As of last Friday, Madrak said 31,371 people had enrolled in private health care plans. About 136,000 people have signed up for government-funded Medicaid plans over the past 90 days. Madrak said that means about 500,000 people in total have enrolled in health plans over the two years.

The insurance marketplace has also re-enrolled about 66,000 people who first signed up for coverage last year. Connecticut offered a new automatic re-enrollment process.

Madrak said consumers should be aware the tax penalty for not having insurance is higher in 2015 than in 2014. It's now 2 percent of the total household income over the federal income tax filing threshold, or $325 per individual, $162.50 per child or $975 for families, whichever is greater.

"It kind of spikes dramatically," he said. "At this point, you're paying a penalty and not getting any benefit from it."