December 1, 2016
Contact: Luke Clarke 720-496-2545

DENVER — More than 37,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2017 through the state health insurance Marketplace in November, a rate 23 percent ahead of signups one year ago, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®.

“The pace of sign-ups during the first month of this Open Enrollment has been very heartening,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson. “We know that there is a lot of discussion now about the future direction of healthcare, but what remains constant and true is the importance of protecting the health and financial future of all Coloradans. I encourage everyone who needs health insurance to check to see if they qualify for financial assistance, review the available plans, and complete an enrollment before the last-minute rush.”

In the first month of the annual Open Enrollment period, Coloradans selected 37,948 medical and dental insurance plans. That compares to 30,777 such plan selections in November 2015.

Whether you are renewing or enrolling for the first time, you must complete enrollment by December 15, to have coverage January 1, and avoid a gap in your coverage. Open Enrollment runs through January 31.

Key dates and deadlines for individuals and families buying private coverage

  • Open Enrollment: November 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017.
    • You cannot purchase health insurance after this period unless you have a qualifying life-change event, such as marriage, divorce, having a child, losing your employer-sponsored insurance, or moving to Colorado.
  • Last day to enroll for coverage beginning January 1, 2017, is December 15, 2016.
  • Last day to enroll for 2017 coverage (without a life change event): January 31, 2017.

About Connect for Health Colorado
Connect for Health Colorado is a public, non-profit entity established in law by the Colorado General Assembly in 2011 to create a health insurance Marketplace. It opened for business on Oct. 1, 2013, for individuals, families and small employers to compare and buy health insurance and apply for tax credits to help make their insurance more affordable. Customers can shop online; get help by phone or chat from expert Customer Service Center representatives; and find in-person assistance from certified brokers and agents, community based certified Health Coverage Guides or Certified Application Counselors. In 2016, the Marketplace enrolled more than 170,000 Coloradans in private insurance and helped more than 100,000 gain access to new tax credits that made their health coverage more affordable – all while keeping fees among the lowest in the country. For more information: www.connectforhealthco.com

The holidays are a time to disconnect from our daily grind and reflect. For me, the holiday last week helped bring some perspective to the changing environment in which we operate. If anything has been constant in our organization’s history it is the inevitability of change, whether it’s in market dynamics, regulation or the public policy environment. What brings me comfort and confidence is knowing how we’ve responded to that change in the past — we thrived.

  • We created, built and delivered an entirely new service for individuals, families and small business purchasing health insurance in Colorado and we are consistently seen as one of the top-performing and financially stable state-based Marketplaces.
  • We are trending 25% above where enrollments were only one year ago.
  • We developed a wide network of expert stakeholders from hospitals, trusted community-based organizations, Assistance Network partners, and brokers who have tirelessly served Coloradans for four years.
  • More than 93% of Coloradans have health insurance, the highest rates in the state’s history and one of the highest rates in the country.
  • Bankruptcies tied to medical debt have dropped by more than half to 45,000 a year.
  • We delivered $184 million in tax credits to our state in 2015.
  • Our innovative consumer decision-support tools leveraging Colorado claims data continue to receive positive attention.

While there are legitimate concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we should remember that Colorado’s path to building a health insurance Marketplace started years before national healthcare reform. The history dates back to 2006, when the Colorado General Assembly and Gov. Bill Owens established the Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform, known as the “208 Commission.”

In 2008, under Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter Jr., the Commission released its “Final Report to the Colorado General Assembly,” with a set of 26 robust recommendations from a diverse set of bipartisan stakeholders. The recommendations included the concept of a health insurance marketplace, much like the one we operate today. In many ways, our state was ahead of the curve. In the coming months, we’ll work to remind our partners, legislators, and the business community that while there is still room for improvement, we have made a very big dent in these issues identified ten years ago. Our mission of improving access, affordability and choice still ring true, regardless of who is in office.

While legislation has yet to be proposed, we are keeping our eye on several things. On Monday we outlined possible election impacts to the organization with our Board Policy Committee. We will continue to monitor potential changes to the ACA through the lens of our mission statement.

In Recent News

Six-term Republican Georgia congressman and orthopedic surgeon, Tom Price, has been nominated as the next secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this role, Price will oversee many departments within HHS like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), but his main focus will be to define the future of the Affordable Care Act and how Healthcare.gov and other state-based Marketplaces, like ourselves, comply with any new changes to the law. Price will need to be confirmed by the Senate before his appointment is final.

Seema Verma was also recently selected to run CMS. Verma has extensive Medicaid experience having designed Indiana’s Medicaid expansion under then Gov. Mike Pence. In this role, she’ll have oversight of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In Colorado, this program is called Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), which offers low-cost health insurance for certain children and pregnant women and is administered by Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF).

I appreciate everything you all are doing to help improve the health of Coloradans.

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we’re busy as ever enrolling customers. In fact, enrollments are outpacing our numbers by more than 25 percent over this time last year, with our biggest day falling the day after the election. And, this is a trend we’re seeing nationally.

While the recent election has raised a lot of questions about the future of healthcare, what remains constant and true is the importance of protecting the health and financial future of our customers. Broken bones, disease and other chronic conditions aren’t political, but can happen at any time and in some cases, are preventable with access to care and health insurance. Our dedication to helping customers remains as strong as ever.

With the upcoming holiday, we’d like to make you aware of our hours and closures. The Connect for Health Colorado administrative office will be closed Thursday, November 24th and Friday, November 25th. Our Customer Service Center will be operating the following hours:

  • Thursday, November 24th: Closed
  • Friday, November 25th: Open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 26th: Open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

We will continue to communicate weekly and as we know more. You can also see updates on our new “Election Questions” page that we created to address inquiries.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday,

Kevin N. Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

The answer to that question is “YES!” The recent election has raised a lot of questions about the future of healthcare in this country. What remains constant and true is that it is important to protect the health and financial future of you and your family. Broken bones, disease and other chronic conditions aren’t political, but can happen at any time. Most are treatable, and in some cases preventable, if you have access to care and health insurance. AND, Connect for Health Colorado remains the only place you can access financial assistance to help reduce the cost of health insurance.

Rest assured plans cannot be canceled mid-year, regardless of federal changes, as long as you continue to make your monthly payments.

Learn more about your options.

There has been a lot of talk about the future of the healthcare in our country since the election. There are a few things we should keep in mind:

  • 168,000 Colorado residents have healthcare coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.
  • 102,000 are getting tax credits to help them afford their coverage.
  • Our state’s uninsured rate has dropped to 6.7 percent, the lowest in our state’s history and one of the lowest rates in the country.
  • The law that provides financial assistance to qualifying individuals and families is not changed and remains in effect.
  • We urge our customers to continue to shop for the best coverage for themselves and their families in 2017 and complete their enrollment by Dec. 15, 2016, to avoid a gap in coverage.
  • It is important for all Coloradans to have coverage, for their health and for their financial security.
  • Until the new administration and Congress develop a new direction, we continue with normal operations.

You [our customers, stakeholders and partners] have been with us from the beginning. We have achieved this success and navigated through the challenges to the law and uncertainty together. In these early days of Open Enrollment, we continue to see more Coloradans buying health insurance than ever before.

I want to call on your support again as we rededicate ourselves to our mission and to the new challenge of helping our customers understand any changes that might take place and what it means for them and their coverage.

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

3 recommendations for a smoother enrollment

  1. Use a Recommended Browser
    • Google Chrome v. 52, 53, 54
    • Mozilla Firefox v. 48, 49
    • MS Internet Explorer 9, 10, 11
    • Apple Safari 9, 10
  2. Use a Desktop or Laptop Computer
    Tablets and mobile devices are not compatible with the Marketplace. You may browse the informational portion of the website on your tablet or mobile prior to signing in and shopping. Once you sign in and begin shopping you will experience technical issues and will have to start over using a desktop or laptop.
  3. Clear Your Browser Cache & Cookies
    Before you get started, we recommend you clear your browser cache and cookies. Press the CTRL, Shift and Delete keys at the same time. Select “clear browsing data,” and close ALL your browser windows. Open a new browsing window to get started. Please know this will remove any saved sites or passwords you have enabled sites to store.

Other issues to troubleshoot

If you are experiencing issues while trying to enroll, please read through the following to troubleshoot the issue prior to notifying Connect for Health Colorado. If none of the following resolves or pertains to the issue, please give us a call and provide us with as much detail as possible.

  1. Reboot. Try rebooting before reporting any IT related incident or problem.
  2. If using Internet Explorer, make sure the compatibility mode is checked off.
  3. If you are noticing an issue that you think is part of a bigger problem or outage, please check with coworkers nearby to confirm the impact before contacting support. This helps us understand the scope of the problem.
  4. Try to reboot your system at least once every 3 days. Only locking your system when you leave each evening can cause performance problems.

Connect for Health Colorado® and Center for Improving Value in Health Care Introduce Online Resource to Help Consumers Estimate Costs for Health Insurance

DENVER — Shoppers on Colorado’s health insurance Marketplace will have a new tool that will help them find the most cost-effective coverage when they begin shopping next week for coverage in 2017.

Connect for Health Colorado® and the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) partnered to develop the Quick Cost and Plan Finder tool that will enable consumers to see:

  • Whether they may qualify for financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums and other costs, such as copays and deductibles.
  • An estimate of annual out-of-pocket costs, based on their expected health care usage.
  • Plans that include their preferred doctors, facilities and/or medications.

“We want to help our customers get as complete a picture of their costs as possible when they shop for coverage on our Marketplace,” said Kevin Patterson, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado. “When customers better understand the health insurance they are choosing, they are better equipped to get the full value of their health plan.”

The tool equips consumers with an estimate of overall costs — including such things as co-pays, co-insurance and other “out-of-pocket” expenses — relying on data within the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD), which is administered by CIVHC. The CO APCD is Colorado’s most comprehensive source of health care claims information. It includes data from 510 million health insurance claims from 21 health insurance companies.

“Shopping for health plans can be confusing, and this tool helps Coloradans understand how different plans may impact their out-of-pocket costs throughout the year,” states Ana English, President and CEO for CIVHC. “By combining CO APCD data with health plan data, we are providing a missing piece of the puzzle for customers making important health care decisions.”

The tool does not recommend which plan a shopper should choose but gives consumers a better comparison of the health insurance options when shopping for coverage. Consumers may request help from a certified Broker for help evaluating benefits and selecting a health insurance plan that best meets his or her individual or family needs, at no additional cost.

Development of the tool was funded by a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.

About Connect for Health Colorado
Connect for Health Colorado is a public, non-profit entity established by the Colorado General Assembly in 2011 to create a health insurance Marketplace.  It opened for business on Oct. 1, 2013, for individuals, families and small employers to compare and buy health insurance and is the only place to apply for financial assistance in the form of tax credits to help lower the monthly cost of premiums. Customers can shop online; get help by phone or online chat from Customer Service Center representatives; and access free, in-person assistance from a statewide network of certified Brokers, community-based Health Coverage Guides or Application Counselors. For more information: www.connectforhealthco.com

About CIVHC
CIVHC (civhc.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps Colorado identify ways to pay for, deliver and select high value health care. Through the pioneering Colorado All Payer Claims Database, we offer the state’s most comprehensive health care cost, quality and utilization claims data. We unlock information and provide tools and insights that guide meaningful action to improve health, enhance quality and lower cost. Bringing together a broad spectrum of organizations and individuals to design and drive collective change, CIVHC is devoted to a single cause: advancing an exceptional health care system for Colorado.

July 27, 2016
Contact: Luke Clarke 720-496-2545

DENVER – Connect for Health Colorado® is opening the application period for its Certified Application Counselor (CAC) Program. The program designates organizations throughout the state to provide application assistance to customers seeking financial assistance for health coverage through the state health insurance Marketplace.

The CAC Program is an unfunded initiative that engages partner organizations to support Connect for Health Colorado’s efforts to provide Coloradans access to affordable health coverage. It is an opportunity for healthcare providers and organizations who already perform application assistance for health coverage or financial programs to become Certified Application Counselor Designated Organizations. This program is implemented in compliance with the 45 CFR § 155.225.

Selected organizations will have staff and/or volunteers to perform the duties of Certified Application Counselors. Connect for Health Colorado will train and certify the Certified Application Counselors.  Applicants are required to:

  • Submit a Designated Organization application
  • Sign and submit the Certified Application Counselor Program Designated Organization Agreement with their application
  • Ensure that staff and/or volunteers who will be working as CACs complete mandatory training and become certified through Connect for Health Colorado

Deadline:  Applications can be submitted between August 1-September 15 for participation in the program Oct. 1, 2016, through September 30, 2017.

Application Documents: Can be found on the Connect for Health Colorado Certified Application Counselor Program webpage.

About Connect for Health Colorado
Connect for Health Colorado is a public, non-profit entity established by the Colorado General Assembly in 2011 to create a health insurance Marketplace.  It opened for business on Oct. 1, 2013, for individuals, families and small employers to compare and buy health insurance and is the only place to apply for financial assistance in the form of tax credits to help lower the monthly cost of premiums. Customers can shop online; get help by phone or online chat from Customer Service Center representatives; and access free, in-person assistance from a statewide network of certified Brokers, community-based Health Coverage Guides or Application Counselors. For more information: www.connectforhealthco.com

July 13, 2016
Contact: Luke Clarke 720-496-2545

DENVERConnect for Health Colorado® CEO Kevin Patterson was recently presented the Vikki Buckley Award during the Civil and Human Rights Dinner hosted by the African American Voice newspaper.

“I personally believe in the importance of publicly acknowledging and encouraging those leaders that are making a positive difference in our lives. By making the many benefits of the Affordable Care Act available to our community, Kevin is truly making a difference,” said James Tucker, publisher of the African American Voice in presenting the award.

Victoria “Vikki” Buckley was a Denver native who overcame challenging circumstances early in life to be elected to statewide office. She was a single mother of three who relied briefly on welfare benefits before completing her education and launching a successful political career. She was in her second term as Secretary of State —the only African American woman to hold the office — when she died of a heart attack in 1999 at age 51. Then Governor Bill Owens described Buckley as “a rising star that believed in making government work for people.”

As CEO of Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health insurance Marketplace, Patterson leads the program that provides financial assistance for qualified buyers of private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. There are currently more than 155,000 Coloradans enrolled in health coverage through the Marketplace.

The awards dinner was held on June 17th as part of the weekend long 2016 Juneteenth Caribbean Heritage Festival in Colorado Springs. Patterson was one of ten African Americans to be recognized during the dinner for their contributions to the greater Colorado community.

About Connect for Health Colorado
Connect for Health Colorado is a public, non-profit entity established by the Colorado General Assembly in 2011 to create a health insurance Marketplace.  It opened for business on Oct. 1, 2013, for individuals, families and small employers to compare and buy health insurance and is the only place to apply for financial assistance in the form of tax credits to help lower the monthly cost of premiums. Customers can shop online; get help by phone or online chat from Customer Service Center representatives; and access free, in-person assistance from a statewide network of certified Brokers, community-based Health Coverage Guides or Application Counselors. For more information: www.connectforhealthco.com

July 8, 2016
Contact: Luke Clarke 720-496-2545

DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper has named Kyle M. Brown, the governor’s Senior Health Policy Advisor, to the Connect for Health Colorado® Board of Directors to serve in an ex-officio capacity.

The Connect for Health Colorado board has nine voting members and three ex-officio (non-voting) members. They are appointed by Republican and Democratic leaders in the state Legislature and by the governor.

As the Senior Health Policy Advisor, Brown advises the governor on legislation, regulations, and agency actions related to health and human services.  Previously, he was the Special Projects Coordinator at the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, where he focused on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and connecting criminal justice involved populations with healthcare.

Brown has served as a health, education, and human services policy advisor to two senior U.S. Senators.  He received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard University and his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. He replaces David Padrino, also of the governor’s senior staff, who has served on the Connect for Health Colorado Board since December 2014.

About Connect for Health Colorado
Connect for Health Colorado is a public, non-profit entity established by the Colorado General Assembly in 2011 to create a health insurance Marketplace.  It opened for business on Oct. 1, 2013, for individuals, families and small employers to compare and buy health insurance and is the only place to apply for financial assistance in the form of tax credits to help lower the monthly cost of premiums. Customers can shop online; get help by phone or online chat from Customer Service Center representatives; and access free, in-person assistance from a statewide network of certified Brokers, community-based Health Coverage Guides or Application Counselors. For more information: www.connectforhealthco.com