By Carla Anderson
April 3, 2014
While March 31 was the last day to apply for a commercial health plan for coverage in 2014, Connect for Health Colorado granted a two-week extension to those who started their applications before the deadline. Those who weren’t able to complete their applications now have until April 15 to sign up with a health plan. See the Connect for Health Colorado website for more information. Individuals who failed to apply by March 31 may have to pay a penalty: $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater. People who get married or divorced, change jobs, 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. Enrollment for Medicaid and through the small business marketplace, also called the SHOP, continues throughout the year.
As of April 1, signups through Connect for Health Colorado totaled 277,149. More than 116,600 signed up for private health plans and more than 158,500 qualified for Medicaid.
According to enrollment data compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only 57 percent of those Coloradans who purchased private insurance between Oct. 1 and March 1 qualified for assistance to offset the cost. Nationally, 83 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 38 percent of plans sold in Colorado are bronze plans compared to 18 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.
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 an assistance site through an online search tool.
According to Kaiser’s State Health Facts, 16 percent of Colorado’s under-65 population is uninsured.
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.