HealthSource enrollment, new month mean high gear at DHS

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With the new month, November 1, the Rhode Island Department of Human Services is kicking into high gear.

While still dealing with delays for their new “UHIP” (United Health Infrastructure Project) public benefits management system, the new month also starts the open enrollment period for Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI, as well as fresh applications for unemployment and health impairment benefits.

Benefits were renewed Tuesday for SNAP benefits recipients, state officials said. The number of customer service agents specifically dealing with EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards has also been increased.

But constituents are being warned that wait times are likely to grow and stretch.

DHS officials anticipated a big increase in health insurance enrollees this year, so HealthSourceRI’s call center in East Providence has extended its hours to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday, and most Saturdays during open enrollment. Field offices in Woonsocket and Providence have also extended hours.

Gov. Gina Raimondo stressed Tuesday stressing her administration’s commitment to the state’s residents: “If issues emerge, contingency plans are in place to resolve them quickly,” she said in a statement. “I appreciate Rhode Islanders’ patience during this time, and am committed to holding my team accountable for improving the services we provide to all of our customers as we continue to implement this new system.”

Enrollees in HealthSource RI’s insurance plans can expect to see a decrease in premium rates, DHS officials said: six-tenths of a percentage point in the individual or family market, and premium rates for some plans will decrease more than 5 percent.

Open enrollment ends January 31, 2017.