colorado guide to health insurance

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Colorado health insurance exchange

137,000 enroll in Colorado exchange, 182k qualify for Medicaid

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Obamacare enrollment for 2014 has ended in Colorado. People who get married or divorced, lose their existing coverage, have a child or experience another qualifying event may be eligible for a special enrollment period to purchase commercial insurance before the next open enrollment period. See the Connect for Health website for more information. The next open enrollment period, for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2015, starts Nov. 15. Enrollment for Medicaid and through the small business marketplace, also called the SHOP, continues throughout the year.

Connect for Health Colorado, the state-run health insurance exchange, far exceeded the qualified health plan (QHP) enrollment target of 92,000 set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Connect for Health Colorado announced more than 129,000 people had signed up for QHPs as of April 23. Through special enrollment periods, QHP enrollment grew to 137,000 as of June 24. In addition, nearly 182,000 people have qualified for the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Only 60 percent of those Coloradans who purchased private insurance qualified for assistance to offset the cost. Nationally, 85 percent qualified for financial assistance. Colorado’s relatively low rate of financial assistance and the high premiums in some areas of the state explain why 40 percent of plans sold in Colorado are bronze plans compared to 20 percent nationally.

Gov. John Hickenlooper informed the federal government in October 2012 that Colorado intended to run its own health insurance marketplace, and the state received federal approval of its plan in December 2012.

Unlike politicians in most other states, Colorado legislators voted on a bipartisan basis to move ahead with a state-run exchange. Legislation to establish the state marketplace passed in May 2011 and was signed by Hickenlooper in June 2011. In early 2013, marketplace was given the brand name “Connect for Health Colorado.” Colorado’s marketplace is governed by a 12-member board and led by Executive Director and CEO Patty Fontneau.

For the 2014 plan year, Connect for Health Colorado offered 150 health plans from 10 companies for individuals and families. Small businesses, which can purchase coverage anytime during the year, can choose from 92 health plans from six insurers.

Insurers submitted preliminary filings for the 2015 plan year in June. Individuals will have about 350 medical plans to choose from in 2015. With some insurers increasing rates and others dropping their premiums, rates look to be stable on average. The 2015 plan offerings and rates will be finalized by September.

The Connect for Health board approved a $66.4 million budget for the fiscal year running from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The budget includes a $1.25 per-member-per-month assessment on insurance carriers, which officials say will allow the marketplace to maintain an operating reserve of $13 million. The assessment applies to all policies, not just those sold through the marketplace. According to Health News Colorado, the 2015 budget includes:

  • $29.5 million for technology
  • $13.6 million for the customer service center
  • $7 million for salaries, legal and accounting fees, and travel
  • $6 million for the assistance network
  • $4.8 million for marketing, communication and outreach
  • $2.3 million for consulting and operations

Colorado health insurance exchange links

Connect for Health Colorado
855-PLANS-4-YOU (855-752-6749)

State Exchange Profile: Colorado
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Colorado’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.