One Week Away from Open Enrollment

After 13 years without health insurance, a small business owner in Stamford is finally planning to sign up for coverage, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Brenda Cerezo said she could never afford health insurance.

"Very expensive," Cerezo said. "It was like 700 or 800 dollars a month."

She's owned Cerezo Salon for 17 years and has two employees but has never been able to provide them with health care coverage either.

"It was a lot," she said. "It was too much money even for them to pay the deductible."

Cerezo said she's anxious to sign up for a health plan on the brand new exchange, where a number of individual and group plans are offered at competitive rates. The exchange goes live next Tuesday.

Cerezo plans to sign up right away.

"This will help me, and I can help my employees too," she said.

Access Health CT is the quasi-state agency in charge of the exchange. For months, the organization has worked to spread the word about open enrollment.

"The state will be ready," said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT. "We're looking pretty good."

Thousands of uninsured and under-insured are expected to enroll in a plan being offered on the new health insurance marketplace. Costs could be even lower for those who qualify for subsidies.

Counihan said he didn't expect a mad rush to sign up.

"We're expecting very few, if any enrollments in October," he said. "The bulk of the enrollment will be in the three week period after Thanksgiving."

Talk of a government shutdown in Washington and threats to defund the health care law won't impact Connecticut's exchange because the funds have already been allocated, Counihan said.

He adds that just the talk of a shutdown could have unintended consequences.

"I think this potentially could lend confusion to, in fact, that the whole law has been shut down, deferred canceled or something like that," said Counihan.

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