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Laptops arriving to help those trained to assist with Access Health CT marketplace

By Judy Benson

Publication: The Day

Published October 10. 2013 4:00AM

Many of those trained to assist with the state's new online health insurance marketplace, Access Health CT, are still waiting to receive dedicated laptop computers from the quasi-public agency that set up the site.

Kathleen Tallarita, spokeswoman for Access Health CT, said 50 of the so-called "assisters" had the laptops as of early Wednesday afternoon, and another 50 were slated to receive them later that day. Later in the week, 189 assisters would get the machines, and the remaining 117 would have them by early next week, she said. None of the laptops are in southeastern Connecticut yet, but some will be here by Friday, Tallarita said.

The delay in getting the laptops to all the assisters was due to the need to ensure all the security and privacy features were correctly installed, Tallarita said. Information sent to Access Health CT through the laptops will not be stored there so that no one can hack in and take an applicant's private information.

The assisters are staff of pharmacies and social service, health and other nonprofit agencies who were trained and certified to guide people through the website, www.AccessHealthCT.com, to apply for health insurance. Three companies are each offering three-tiered plans through the site to families, individuals and small businesses.

In southeastern Connecticut, two pharmacies and a dozen social service and health agencies sent staff to be trained as assisters who would work with their own clients and customers as well as offer the service to the general public.

"I'm looking forward to diving in," said Lisa Scronce, store manager at Greenville Drug Store in Norwich, who completed the assister training. She said she was told she would receive her laptop on Tuesday.

Several customers have contacted her to ask about meeting to sign up through Access Health CT, she said.

The glitch in the laptop distribution has not extended to the entire site. People are still able to access the website and apply for coverage through their own computers. The coverage would begin Jan. 1, with the first premium payment due Dec. 15.

Since it began operating on Oct. 2, the site has had 115,892 visitors, and 9,492 people telephoned the Access Health CT call center, the agency said in its daily report Wednesday. A total of 3,087 people had applied for health insurance through the site.

j.benson@theday.com

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