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October 20, 2019Cart

Business

by Fairfield County Business Journal
by FCBJ

ConnectiCare looks to grow its retail space and market share

Having long since established its name in the state, the insurance carrier ConnectiCare is redoubling its branding efforts in Fairfield County and beyond.

“We want to improve our brand recognition,” said Roberta “Bert” Wachtelhausen, the Farmington insurer’s senior vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. “We’ve got some good momentum already, but we want to improve our profile and our market share.”

Wachtelhausen

For the just-completed open enrollment period on the state’s health insurance exchange Access Health CT, ConnectiCare had about 83,000 customers, the majority of whom are in Fairfield County, compared with 31,000 for Anthem, the only other insurer on AccessHealth. ConnectiCare said it covers in total about 92,000 state residents. An additional 48,000 people are enrolled though its Medicare Advantage program.

ConnectiCare’s total market share in the state is about 80 percent, according to Kim Kann, the insurer’s public relations and corporate communications director.

Before joining ConnectiCare in 2016, Wachtelhausen served as a senior vice president at Shelton consultancy LifeCare and was a co-founder and senior vice president at Averde Health, a now-defunct Hartford health benefits company. She was brought in specifically to help raise ConnectiCare’s profile, she said.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty over the future of the exchanges, created by the Affordable Care Act, Wachtelhausen said the company remains committed to the state and is moving full-steam ahead with its expansion in Fairfield County. ConnectiCare considered dropping out of the exchange in 2016.

ConnectiCare’s sales office at 10 Middle St. in Bridgeport is barely visible from the street, Wachtelhausen said, and with its lease expiring in June, the company is hunting for a larger office space that would also accommodate a retail operation. Growing from three to as many as 10 employees, the new office is expected to open by late summer in a “high-traffic area,” she said.

That office might not be in Bridgeport, Wachtelhausen said, although the company’s other location in the city, in the Sanitas Medical Center building at 4551 Main St., continues to have strong success. One of four retail locations in the state — the others are in Manchester, Newington and Waterbury — ConnectiCare’s Bridgeport store allows customers to purchase policies, ask questions about billing and other topics, and receive other customer service.

Part of a collaboration between the insurer and Sanitas, the Main Street store since its opening in January 2017 has been named the preferred primary care provider by about 2,500 people. Kann said the company expects those numbers to grow this year.

ConnectiCare recently joined both the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce to “make sure the business communities there know us,” Wachtelhausen said. “Chambers can play a really valuable role when it comes to membership, so we want to educate them about what we do.”

“We want to go deep into communities, both from a B2B and a B2C standpoint It’s a very grassroots approach.”

While the insurer expects to join other chambers of commerce in the county, Wachtelhausen cautioned that “we’re evaluating which ones make the most sense for us in terms of active and prospective participants.”

As a part of New York City’s EmblemHealth, which acquired it in 2005, ConnectiCare is also enhancing its product offerings to increasingly allow Fairfield County residents to seamlessly use New York health care providers.

“With the commuting patterns between the two states, it makes sense,” Wachtelhausen said. “When a ConnectiCare member goes to a doctor in New York, we want to make sure that doctor recognizes us so that there is a seamless payment of the claim.”

On the national front, ConnectiCare is bringing the health enhancement program it administers for state of Connecticut employees and their dependents to employers across the country. Administered by ConnectiCare subsidiary Care Management Solutions Inc., the program, serves to meet state requirements for its employees that range from scheduling physicals and regular checkups to flu shots and dental cleanings.

Wachtelhausen said she’s been traveling around the country for the past two months to determine if other state governments are interested. “If they want to private-label it and recommend it to their clients, that’s fine too,” she said.

“Getting more businesses across the country, the state and Fairfield County to sign up with us is a big part of my purpose,” she said. “I’ve never met a sales lead I didn’t like.”