Your Guide to Health Insurance in Colorado
Before we jump right into health insurance in Colorado and everything you need to know, let’s start with a little background information. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a “Obamacare” or ACA) was passed with the goal of getting all Americans access to affordable health insurance. To meet this goal, one measure Obamacare took was to create the ACA health insurance marketplaces, or health exchanges: one-stop shops where Americans can choose from a range of standardized, government-regulated health care plans. Health exchanges are also where eligible people can get subsidies, which lower the cost of their health plans.
States were given the option to run their own local exchange, take part in a multi-state exchange, or use the federal exchange. States that run their own exchanges get to customize many elements, including the time frame during which their residents can sign up for a plan. Several states decided to operate their own state exchanges and continue to do so to this day. Colorado is one of those states.
Colorado’s Health Insurance Landscape: Then and Now
The health insurance exchange in Colorado is called Connect for Health Colorado. Before the ACA, 17 percent of Coloradans were uninsured. Since the introduction of Connect for Health Colorado, the percent of Coloradans without health insurance has dropped to 6.5! These people fall into four primary groups (note: these categories overlap):
1. Ineligible due to immigration status (25 percent)
2. Under the poverty line (61,000)
3. No high school diploma (50,000)
4. Hispanics (115,000)
165 thousand people have enrolled for health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado, and their uninsured rate has held steady since 2015.
The Health Insurance Exchange in Colorado
Connect for Health Colorado is where eligible people throughout the state can find subsidized ACA plans. Open Enrollment for 2019 in Colorado begins November 1 and ends January 15. If you sign up by December 15, your coverage will start January 1. However, if you sign up after December 15, your will have to wait until February 1 to use your plan. Lucky you – this sign up window is significantly longer than the window given on the federal exchange!
Like all other state exchanges, each plan on Connect for Health Colorado covers 10 essential health benefits. These include things like prescription coverage, maternity and mental health care, and laboratory services.
Buying insurance with Connect for Health Colorado involves four steps:
1. Create an account on Connect for Health Colorado
2. Complete the online application form
3. Compare your options
4. Select your plan and enroll
In true health insurance fashion, each of these steps can be trickier than you expect. Many people need help navigating the website, estimating their income, figuring out if they are eligible for subsidies, and understanding what documents are needed for proof of income, citizenship, or identity. Working with Stride makes this process much faster and easier, while still enrolling through Connect for Health Colorado with the same plan at the same price.
Connect for Health Colorado’s Intricacies: What You Need to Know for 2019
All insurers that offered plans on Connect for Health Colorado for 2018 will continue to do so for 2019. This means all 7 carriers are returning to the exchange. These 7 carriers include:
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Denver Health Medical Plan
Friday Health Plans of Colorado
Rocky Mountain HMO
As of 2017, Kaiser, Anthem, and Cigna made up the majority of the market for health insurance in Colorado. Coloradans are lucky because there is a Connect for Health Colorado is one of the most robust exchanges in the country. This means you have a pretty good selection when choosing a plan.
According to a recent Colorado Division of Insurance press release, insurance plan prices are increasing. The amount by which it increases depends on where in Colorado you live. On average across the state, your monthly premium will increase by 5.6 percent if you choose to keep your current health plan. However, if you qualify for a subsidy your monthly premium, on average across the state, will decrease by 24 percent if you choose to keep your current health plan. Even better? You will likely qualify for a health insurance subsidy, which can help make your plan more affordable; of the 165 thousand people enrolled through Connect for Health Colorado, 74 percent receive federal subsidies.
If you live in Colorado, the start of Open Enrollment (the time of year when you can enroll in a new health plan) is here. Be sure to find your most affordable plan, and you’ll be well on your way for smarter, better savings all year long. And don’t forget – if you need help finding a subsidy or picking a plan, our experts are here to help!