Connect for Health Colorado closing open enrollment with over 124,000 Coloradans signed up for private health insurance

Ben Davis, ben@onsightpa.com, 303-522-6790 (Connect for Health Colorado)

DENVER, CO — Connect for Health Colorado announced this morning that more than 124,000 Coloradans have signed up for private health insurance coverage.

“Our goal has always been to connect as many Coloradans as possible with health coverage that meets their needs, and tax credits to reduce costs,” said Patty Fontneau, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado. “We’re pleased that more than 124,000 Coloradans have taken advantage of the health-coverage options offered by Connect for Health Colorado during its first open enrollment period and that we met our goal to keep our fees among the lowest in the country.”

Connect for Health Colorado’s open enrollment period lasted from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Those unable to complete their enrollment before the March 31 deadline were given until April 15 to finish enrolling.

“By providing a diverse range of support services, including a website portal, customer service center, community-based Assistance Sites and a network of certified brokers, Connect for Health Colorado was able to serve Coloradans across the state to purchase coverage for their families and small businesses,” said Connect for Health Colorado Board Chair Gretchen Hammer.

During its first open enrollment period, Connect for Health Colorado offered 150 health plans for individuals and families through 10 different insurance companies. The Marketplace also offered 92 health plans through six insurers to small businesses through its SHOP program.

Through state laws, Connect for Health Colorado was established as a non-profit entity with a Colorado mission.

“Our goal was to create a new, competitive marketplace where Coloradans could shop for health insurance and access new tax credits to reduce costs,” said CEO Patty Fontneau. “We continue to focus on the needs of our customers, keeping in mind that both small businesses and individuals and families that have either lost health insurance coverage or had changes in their lives can continue to enroll throughout 2014.

Just 18 months after hiring technology vendors, the non-profit organization opened Colorado’s own health insurance marketplace October 1, 2013, supporting customers with a statewide network of trained experts.

The marketplace fostered greater competition for the benefit of consumers and provided prices that were affordable to many Coloradans. Tax credits averaged $277 a month – bringing costs down significantly for many customers.

Colorado was one of the most efficient state-based Marketplaces in the country, spending $108 million to date on new technology systems; a Colorado-based Customer Service Center with over 200 employees; support, training and certification for hundreds of community-based Health Coverage Guides and over 1,550 licensed agents/brokers; and a statewide marketing effort to educate Coloradans about the new service. We increased access for harder-to-reach populations by providing a shopping portal in Spanish, language services and convenient walk-in sites and enrollment events across the state in libraries, grocery stores, churches and community sites.

“Less than three years ago, Colorado chose to create a new health insurance marketplace with the mission of increasing access, affordability and choice for individuals and small businesses in our state,” said Board Chair Gretchen Hammer. “We are proud of the hard work and commitment of our staff and partners, focusing on our mission and following our own path toward improving the health care system in Colorado.”

Work has already begun on improving technology systems, automating more functions to benefit customers, and implementing a more streamlined financial application process for the next open enrollment period, which starts November 15, 2014.

Only small businesses and Coloradans with a life-changing event like the birth of a child or loss of coverage may enroll in health insurance between now and 2015. Coloradans can apply for Medicaid year-round. Connect for Health Colorado operates with separate technology and customer service operations from the federal marketplace.

More open enrollment metrics can be found in our By the Numbers: The First Open Enrollment report.