To Our Valued Stakeholders,

We are making great progress in developing our new eligibility system. While there is a lot of work ahead, we know it will bring major improvements to the way Coloradans apply for financial help (Advance Premium Tax Credits and Cost-Sharing Reductions) to lower their health insurance costs.

The new system, first discussed in this letter in February, is generating a lot of anticipation among stakeholders. We have added a new page to our web site to answer questions, report progress and to take your comments and questions.

As a reminder, the new system will be funded, developed and maintained entirely by Connect for Health Colorado and ready for the next Open Enrollment Period. We are undertaking this work to:

  • Streamline the customer experience
  • Continue to meet federal compliance obligations
  • Control system enhancements and to add speed and flexibility to troubleshooting

I hope you find this new resource helpful and that you will share the link with anyone who might have a question or input.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

This year’s Legislature adjourned Wednesday after passing a couple of measures that will affect our customers and not passing three measures that we have been following aimed at easing the burden of high premiums.

What passed:

SB 136 will allow brokers to charge a fee when advising customers to buy a health plan if the broker does not receive a commission on the plan. They cannot charge a fee for enrolling people in Health First Colorado or CHP+ and they are required to notify customers in advance. The state Division of Insurance is working on related rules.

SB 132 calls for the insurance commissioner to make an actuarial analysis to determine whether expanding eligibility for catastrophic to Coloradans age 30 and above (without a hardship exemption) would reduce Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC) for Coloradans or increase average individual health insurance premiums.

If the analysis finds such a change would do neither, the insurance commissioner would be required to seek a five-year waiver to allow the sale of catastrophic plans to all Coloradans. Such plans would remain ineligible for APTC support and would be sold through Connect for Health Colorado.

What did not pass:

HB 1205 would have provided financial assistance to Coloradans whose income is between 400% and 500% of federal poverty level and spend more than 20 percent of their household income on health insurance premiums.

HB 1392 would have created a reinsurance program to help health insurance companies with their highest cost members, allowing them to better contain increases in premium.

HB 1384 would have called for the state department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the state Division of Insurance to study three different healthcare coverage options, a Health First Colorado buy-in, a public-private partnership and a community- or regionally-based healthcare alternative.

In the News

Forbes reported more evidence of state Marketplace stabilization this week, as health insurance companies see improving profits in the individual market. Interestingly, the health insurance companies featured in the article are showing little interest in offering short-term plans.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Our board Executive Committee has voted to support a bill introduced this week in the state Legislature aimed at lowering premiums for buyers in the individual health insurance market through creation of a reinsurance program. The program envisioned in HB 1392 would assist health insurance companies with high cost claims to keep premium increases down.

Containing premium costs through a reinsurance program is of particular benefit to buyers who do not qualify for tax credit help and is aligned with Connect for Health Colorado’s mission to “increase access, affordability and choice” to Coloradans buying health insurance.

Learn more about the legislation.

I mentioned last week that a new law will allow brokers to charge a fee for assisting a customer in certain circumstances.

The state Division of Insurance will develop rules on implementing the law. We have posted some information on our site, and you can read the text of the bill.

In the News

Wisconsin’s governor this week submitted a 1332 waiver request to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a reinsurance program, similar to the waiver request that is called for in HB 1392. Wisconsin officials estimate the program could reduce premiums 5 percent, according to an article in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Yesterday the governor signed into law a bill that will allow brokers to charge a fee when assisting a customer buying a health plan that does not include a broker commission.

Brokers have played an important role in assisting our customers throughout our history and we expect that to continue. We also continue to work to inform our customers on the full cost of their coverage and will incorporate this change in future communications.

The Division of Insurance will develop rules on implementing the law. You can read more on the legislation, including the text of the bill.

In the News

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this week released its Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019. We are reviewing the 523-page document, which is broad in scope.

CMS released an accompanying fact sheet along with the full text.

The Washington Post also summarized some of the highlights of the rules in its coverage.

We will keep you informed of any impact this guidance will have on our customers or our operations.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Please take note: We are in the process of moving our administrative offices to a new location. We will be at 4600 S. Ulster St., Suite 300, Denver, 80237 beginning Monday, April 2.

Our Board committee meetings on Monday, March 26, will be in our current location but the movers go to work as soon as those sessions adjourn. Administrative staff will be working in remote locations for the balance of the week while the move is under way.

We will provide new call-in information for the April 9 Board meeting with the agenda and support materials for the meeting. Those attending in person will want to go to the new address, which is in the Tech Center close to the I-25-I-225 interchange.

I hope to see you there.

In the News

The state Division of Insurance this week released comment on proposed federal rule changes to widen the availability of Association Health Plans (AHP). The letter to the federal Department of Labor points out concerns around the risk to consumers and the history of financial instability of such plans.

The Commonwealth Fund recently released survey results that the policy debate around the Affordable Care Act has created concern among Americans who gained coverage under the law that they may lose their health benefits. Concerning to us is the finding that three in 10 adults who have Marketplace or Medicaid coverage are pessimistic about maintaining it.

On the plus side, the Commonwealth Fund points out that Kaiser Family Foundation polling finds 54 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, up four percentage points since January.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

We released our End of Open Enrollment report this week, our most detailed look at the impact we are having across Colorado. This year, you will see that more of our customers are receiving help through the Advance Premium Tax Credit – 69 percent, compared to 61 percent last year – and the average level of monthly tax credit help climbed to $505 from $369 last year.

The number of users of our Quick Cost and Plan Finder tool increased more than five-fold, to 163,323, while the number of calls to our Customer Service Center dropped by one-third.

Even with a 23 percent reduction in the number of days in the enrollment period and confusion related to last year’s policy debate, our plan selections nearly equaled last year’s. Many of you receiving this message share in the credit for this success and I want to thank you and invite you to read the full report.

In the News

Predicting the future in our business is tricky but I took part in a panel this week that did it anyway. The Brookings Institution brought together a group to talk about the future of the Affordable Care Act. You can watch it or read a transcript.

And, while we’re looking forward, you might enjoy this article posted by Healthline on reasons to believe the Affordable Care Act will be with us a while.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

We took an important step forward this week with our board’s decision to move ahead on building a new eligibility system. With our own system, we will be able to provide customer’s a better application and enrollment experience and at the same gain more control and predictability for IT expenses.

A simplified path for enrolling with financial help can be expected to help us grow enrollment while getting more Coloradans the Advance Premium Tax Credit and Cost Share Reduction benefits that they are eligible to receive. We will continue to support Health First Colorado (Medicaid) enrollments and ensure that customers are routed to the right program, whether they begin at our site or with the PEAK application.

The new system will be in place for our next Open Enrollment Period. Learn more details about our plan.

We will be providing regular updates and taking stakeholder input as we progress.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

We were all glad to see the good news this week with the six-year reauthorization of the Child Health Insurance Plan. Known as Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in Colorado, the program serves 75,000 children in the state and 800 pregnant women. They will be receiving notice from the department of Health Care Policy and Financing next week.

Learn more about sample letters, updates and statements from the department.

Tax Form Mailing

We are in the process of an important mailing of our own these days. Our customers will start receiving their Forms 1095-A next week. The form reports coverage dates and tax credit assistance levels to support them in filing their 2017 tax return. Copies of the form are also uploaded to online accounts.

Board Advisory Group

The Connect for Health Colorado Board Advisory Group currently has openings for a health insurance company representative and a provider representative. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 2, 2018. Learn more about these positions.

Take care,

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

The curtain falls tonight on our Fifth Open Enrollment Period, by most measures one of our best. Many of you have told me of the improvements you are seeing in our systems and in smoother processes.

On Tuesday, we reported more than 158,000 medical plan selections, still a little ahead of where we were on the same date last year.

I am grateful to our dedicated staff, our Assistance Network, our Broker partners, our health insurance company partners and the many other supportive stakeholders who share credit in our success in these interesting times.

Many on our team are already working on ways to make next year even better than this year.

In the News

The Commonwealth Fund offered an interesting take on marketplace stability last week. Noting that health insurer participation is a strong indicator, the report said that state-based marketplaces are seeing fewer carriers leaving the market.

More than half of state-based marketplaces, including Colorado, have the same number of companies this year as they had last year. Most of the states relying on federally run marketplaces lost between one to four health insurers.

Child Health Plan Plus

After discussing the continued lack of long-term funding for CHP+ at its meeting Monday, our board wrote a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation in support of the program and some of the potential impacts if the program is not re-authorized.

Take care,

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