Colorado health insurance exchange
More than 37,500 Coloradans gain coverage in October
By Carla Anderson
November 14, 2013
Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s online health insurance marketplace, launched Oct. 1. The high volume of visitors to the website prompted marketplace officials to temporarily suspend the creation of new accounts. However, the issue was resolved within a few hours.
Through Nov. 6, Connect for Health Colorado reported more than 3,400 enrollments in private health insurance. An additional 34,000 people have qualified for Medicaid. The Connect for Health Colorado website is averaging nearly 12,000 visitors a day.
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. The board began meeting regularly in 2011, as did several advisory workgroups. The exchange has decided to limit the use of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange to employers with 50 or fewer employees for the first two years (2014 and 2015). Operations (for example, the website and the call center) for the individual and SHOP exchanges will be managed jointly. However, the risk pools will be managed separately.
Connect for Health Colorado offers 150 health plans from 10 companies for individuals and families. Small businesses can choose from 92 health plans from six companies. About 1,300 certified insurance agents and brokers are available to help Colorado consumers. In addition, about 400 “health coverage guides” are certified to provide in-person assistance; guides can help consumers understand their options, but can’t promote a particular insurer or policy. Consumers can locate agents and brokers or assistance site through an online search tool.
According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Colorado is $232 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
According to Kaiser’s State Health Facts, 16 percent of Colorado’s under-65 population is uninsured. Exchange planners expect 960,000 Coloradans to purchase coverage through the exchange in its first three years of operation.
Colorado health insurance exchange links
Connect for Health Colorado
State Exchange Profile: Colorado
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Colorado’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.