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Obamacare Marketplace Profile: Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange

Obamacare Marketplace Profile: Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange

Posted Sep 09, 2013 by Jenifer Dorsey

Exchange name: Connect for Health Colorado

Website: www.connectforhealthco.com

State-based or federally run: Connect for Health Colorado is among the 17 declared state-based health insurance exchanges, which include Washington, D.C. The exchange structure is quasi-governmental, which means it is an independent public agency.

Connect for Health Colorado will function using the clearinghouse model, which allows all plans that meet the minimum federal requirements for qualified health plans are sold on the exchange.

Plans: In mid-August, the Colorado Division of Insurance announced the approval of 541 new health insurance plans from 18 carriers for 2014. You can view a breakdown of plans and carriers by clicking here. The exchange-only plans include 87 options for individual and family coverage and 29 for small groups. There will also be 96 non-exchange-only plans for individuals and families and 203 for small groups. Sixty-three individual and 63 small group plans will be available through both the public and private marketplaces.

The state’s division of insurance also approved 221 dental plans from 11 carriers. There will be seven individual plans and eight group dental plans exclusively offered on the exchange. Twelve individual and 141 small group plans will be sold only off the exchange. Sixteen individual and 37 small group plans will be sold through both marketplaces.

Those who buy health insurance plans from Connect for Health Colorado will have access to Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, as well as Health Savings Account plans, Colorado Young Adult plans for those younger than 30, and dental plans. Coloradans, as with residents of other states, would be wise to consider additional protection sold off the health insurance exchange, including bundled gap plans and critical illness plans. Supplemental plans such as these help create comprehensive coverage more closely resembling that offered by an employer. They provide lump-sum cash benefits for qualifying events. These monies can be used for everything from medical bills to childcare. Supplemental insurance plans are easy to obtain directly from carriers, as well as licensed agents and brokers.

Rates: As states have been making their 2014 Obamacare marketplace rates available, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research has been analyzing them. As of this post’s publication, Colorado was among four states with rate decreases. For a 40-year-old, rates will decrease an average of 34 percent; they will decrease an average of 36 percent for a 27-year-old and 33 percent for a 64-year-old.

While premium rates vary widely, the Colorado Department of Insurance reports that a bronze plan could range from $150 to $250 per month, depending on where one lives. The state has released County Snapshots, a way for residents to preview sample health insurance rates and options available through the new online marketplace based on the county in which they live.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans cannot be denied coverage or charged more due to preexisting conditions. Premium rates will be established based on age, geography, family size and tobacco use. These provisions apply whether plans are purchased via the marketplace or not.

An estimated 500,000 Coloradans will be eligible for premium-reducing financial help, according to a Sept. 6 news piece from Connect for Health Colorado. Use the healthedeals.com Health Care Reform Calculator , which was listed among The Financial Times “Best Online Tools for the Toughest Health Questions,” to estimate your Obamacare health insurance cost and tax credit. Plans purchased off the marketplace will not qualify for subsidies or tax credits.

Consumer assistance: Connect for Health Colorado is establishing a Certified Application Counselor Program to assist consumers statewide when the marketplace opens Oct. 1.

In the meantime, Coloradans can call 855-PLANS-4-YOU (855-752-6749) to speak with a Connect for Health Colorado customer service representative.  

Marketing campaign slogan: When health insurance companies compete, the only winner is you.

Colorado is among the top 10 “heaviest spenders” when it comes to marketing and advertising its health insurance exchange, according to a CBS Denver report from July 24. The state is spending more than $21 million—about $4 per Colorado resident—to promote its marketplace in a heavily personalized way. While there have been TV commercials, much publicity involves in-person promotions via presence at events.

Need coverage now?

If you need health insurance to get you by until January 1, 2014, a temporary insurance plan can provide coverage for as few as 30 days. Start shopping on healthedeals.com or contact a healthedeals.com insurance advisor  for more information on short-term health insurance and supplemental plans.

Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.