Dec. 23 Deadline for Applications for Coverage Beginning Jan. 1
MONTROSE – New figures released this week show that more than 137,000 Coloradans have signed up for health coverage that takes effect January 1, according to data released from Connect for Health Colorado and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. And while the new federal health insurance mandate has angered some, others are finding big savings.
For coverage to begin Jan. 1, residents must be signed up by Monday, Dec. 23. Connect for Health Colorado is a nonprofit state insurance exchange tasked with helping people shop for for insurance, some with the benefit of federal subsidies.
At the CHC Montrose office, supervisor Lynn Carretta said appointments are booked through Dec. 23, but that now, with open enrollment for health care extended through March 31, interested parties can still make appointments for help with enrollment.
There is no open enrollment for Medicaid, however, and the Montrose office can help low-income residents learn about Colorado's Program Eligibility and Application Kit, the low-income medical assistance program offered through Medicaid.
CHC reports that of the approximately 137,201 Coloradans already signed up for coverage starting Jan. 1, 114,192 are enrolled with Medicaid, and 23,009 are enrolled through the state's private health insurance marketplace.
Montrose resident Jason Hanson was able to get insured online after meeting with Carretta. Hanson, 26, is a freelance web designer with an income of around $15,000 a year. He is proud to say he's in good health, but said he wanted to get insured anyway.
With his income of around $15,000 a year, Hanson qualified for Medicaid. He said he had many questions before the enrollment process but with some guidance was able to complete the online application and become approved.
"I guess it's not a necessity,” Hanson said. “But it's something that can make things a whole lot easier. The thought of getting sick and knowing I have insurance, it's good."
Montrose resident Cathy Williams said in the past ten years her insurance rates have tripled for her and her husband Roger, a self-employed general contractor in Montrose.
Williams, a cancer survivor, said that due to her condition they have had to cover their $10,000 deductible each of the past three years, and have been paying $900 a month for insurance.
"Oh God, yes, it's cheaper," Cathy said, of the insurance she has found at Connect for Colorado. Williams said the $30,000 in insurance deductibles the couple was forced to cover had them dipping into savings and retirement funds. "It was continuing to go up and up and up," she said. Now, after going online, she and her husband had, within an hour, "several options" for a new cheaper health plan, all of them “extremely better" than their existing plan.
"My prior medical history wasn't even brought up; they didn't even ask," she said.
Beginning in 2014, the Williamses will pay $600 per month, with a much-lower deductible of $2,500.
"I would recommend everyone to contact Connect for Health Colorado and start 2014 with the comfort of knowing you have health insurance at an affordable rate," Cathy Williams said.
Colorado is one of 25 states opting to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act.
In Montrose County about 2,500 to 4,000 residents will become Medicaid-eligible, due to the expansion effective Jan 1.
From Dec. 1 through Dec. 15, the CHC website www.connectforhealthco.com, has seen on average about 5,000 visitors a day.
“It is a very busy time at Connect for Health Colorado as we support thousands of Coloradans who are signing up for health insurance," said Patty Fontneau, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado. “We are focused on encouraging Coloradans to sign up now for health insurance and providing a range of ways for customers to get the help they need to complete the process.