Maximus, a leading government outsourcer, will open a call center in Hartford in June that will help people shopping for health insurance through the state’s health insurance exchange. That exchange will help those who now only qualify for individual policies and will also be available to people with insurance through work, though only those with parsimonious plans or ones that cost more than 8 percent of income for individual coverage will qualify for subsidies.
Maximus will be hiring 10 full-time employees, but will have staffing agencies do the screening. The jobs will begin to be filled in June.
Shoppers will be encouraged to use the website or automated messages since 10 people could not possibly talk to even the slice of the customers who have no insurance now and make too much to qualify for Medicaid. In Connecticut, that’s 170,000 people.
The company will be paid $15 million between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2016.
The hires will help consumers understand all the different health plans for sale, and which one best meets their needs. Open enrollment for the insurance plans begins October 1.
“We view our customer service centers as the face of Access Health CT. It’s a critical and very visible function, and we are looking forward to partnering with Maximus to deliver best-in-class service that is knowledgeable, friendly and truly helpful,” said Kevin Counihan, Chief Executive Officer, Access Health CT. “The decision to purchase insurance is an important one, especially for those who have not had insurance in the past, and we want to make sure our customer service center representatives are sensitive to this. The fact that Maximus is already working with several states, including New York, on the Affordable Care Act and related health insurance customer call center programs is a big advantage.”
The state has hired Maximus twice before, for a police database project and for screening clients and distributing childcare subsidies that were part of welfare reform.
In the case of the subsidies, it hired too few people, installed an inadequate phone system and fell weeks — sometimes months — behind in making payments to those providing care to the children of parents working to get off welfare.
As phones went unanswered and applications unprocessed, desperate parents filled the company’s lobby, where a makeshift waiting room was established. The governor’s office, legislators and the Department of Social Services fielded hundreds of complaints.
After several months, the company got on top of the program, and said it deserved more money per client, because the state underestimated the scope of work. It got the increase.