To Our Valued Stakeholders,

I had the opportunity last week to participate in a conference with America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association of health insurance companies. The 2017 National Conference on the Individual and Small Group Markets brought industry executives and state health policy experts together to look at potential innovations in the individual and small group markets. My presentation summarizes our history, current state and some of the opportunity we see.

Legislative Update

Media are reporting today that the House of Representatives will vote on the American Health Care Act as early as Thursday. The Monday release of the Congressional Budget Office report scoring the bill — and the estimate that 24 million Americans would lose their health insurance coverage in 10 years — prompted a lot of discussion about potential changes to the legislation.

The Colorado Health Institute released an analysis of the current legislative proposal’s impact on Colorado, estimating that 600,000 Coloradans would lose coverage by 2030 if the proposal were to become law.

Recall that the debate in Congress prior to passing the Affordable Care Act took close to a year and it still feels early in the process. The seventh anniversary of that bill becoming law is also on Thursday.

In Recent News

You may find some valuable historical perspective in two media releases this week.

Writers with Vox.com went deep with a “lessons learned” piece that includes an interview with former President Obama.

Some of our own state’s lessons learned surfaced in a Colorado Public Radio interview with Bill Lindsay, a retired insurance executive who chaired the Blue Ribbon Commission for Healthcare Reform (the “208 Commission”) and who continues to work with the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care. The idea of creating what would become Connect for Health Colorado was born with the 208 Commission.

Take care,

Kevin

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

A bill that would create a new assistance program for Coloradans whose income is a little high for premium tax credit assistance but who are still paying 15 percent or more of their income for health insurance premiums was introduced this week, with sponsors from both parties. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago when the Denver Business Journal covered the announcement of the proposal.

The measure, if it eventually becomes law, would give us a new tool in our mission to increase access, affordability and choice in regions of the state where this has been a growing challenge.

On Tuesday we filed our response to the CMS proposed market stabilization rules. Among many other points, we objected to the shortened open enrollment period, pointing out the added burden to our Brokers, to our Health Coverage Guides and to our own systems this change would bring.

Legislative Update

I doubt there is anyone who has not heard by now that the “repeal and replace” American Health Care Act was introduced in Congress this week. It’s still very early in the process and the measure is subject to a lot of change but you might be interested in this side-by-side comparison of the new bill to existing law and other reform proposals that was compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

They also posted an interactive map illustrating the impact that the bill would have on tax credits, down to the county level.

Finally, the Colorado Health Institute posted a quick look at the potential impacts on our state in a Thursday blog post.

In Recent News

It’s gratifying when our customers are highlighted in the media as examples of the Affordable Care Act working well. That was the case Thursday when Health Affairs Blog told the story of a Denver photographer who was able to go into business for himself  because he could buy his own affordable health insurance coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.

Take care,

Kevin

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

We continue to work with our representatives at the state and federal level to protect the health coverage of all Coloradans, especially those who only recently gained coverage as the state drove down its uninsured rate to an historically low level. We are committed to ensuring our state has the flexibility to continue to provide a Colorado solution to increasing access, affordability and choice.

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

 

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

We reached another milestone Wednesday with the close of the broad special enrollment period available to anyone whose 2016 plan was not offered for renewal this year. Our plan selections for 2017 totaled more than 181,000 by Wednesday’s close — a number 7 percent above where we were last year and, frankly, better than many anticipated.

The continued support from our Health Coverage Guides, Brokers, carrier partners, advocacy groups and other stakeholders helped make this possible even as we faced challenges that we had not seen before. You have my thanks.

Legislative Update

The Colorado Health Institute, which serves as a resource for the legislature and other healthcare policy makers, produced a summation of the role of the Affordable Care Act in expanding coverage in our state. It includes interesting regional breakdowns on the reliance on Health First Colorado — Colorado’s Medicaid Program — in rural counties and the significant numbers of Connect for Health Colorado customers in “Ski Country.”

We meet today (Friday, March 03, 2017) with our legislative oversight committee. You can find information on the committee and its role here.

In Recent News

The Colorado Rural Health Center, a non-profit that works to support care providers and improve healthcare in rural communities, has posted online a helpful fact sheet on the impact the Affordable Care Act has had in rural Colorado, including enrollments through Connect for Health Colorado.

Take care,

Kevin

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders, 

The debate around healthcare reform is giving us more opportunities to tell our story and this week was no exception. We had a productive conversation with Congressman Mike Coffman on Tuesday in a meeting with some of our leadership team. Mr. Coffman, who represents Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District, shared his principles on health care reform in a press release on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 1, will be the final day of the special enrollment period extended to anyone whose 2016 health plan was not available this year. We’ve seen steady increases in 2017 plan selections this month and they will number more than 180,000 by the time we close out the period. Enrollments will now be limited to those with qualifying life change events, such as the loss of employer-sponsored coverage, a marriage, a move to Colorado, the birth or adoption of a child and so on, explained here on our site.

Legislative Update 

The governor’s office on Thursday unveiled a healthcare policy package that includes providing premium subsidies to Coloradans whose income is just above eligibility for the Advance Premium Tax Credits — between 400 percent and 500 percent of federal poverty level. Bills spelling out details of the policy initiative are expected to be introduced soon, though some measures may be on the agenda for next year. The Denver Business Journal reported on the proposals today.

We will be meeting the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange Oversight Committee on Friday as part of the panel’s regular review of our activity. You can find information on the committee and its role here.

In Recent News 

I am glad for the help getting our message out to many in Western Colorado provided by The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, who published my guest opinion piece on Sunday

Take care,

Kevin

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

To Our Valued Stakeholders, 

We received guidance this week from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with proposed rules that would govern sales for next year (plan year 2018). We are working on our response to the proposals. The most noteworthy for our operations is the proposal to cut in half the open enrollment period and run it from Nov. 1, 2017, to Dec. 15, 2017. December 15 has consistently been our highest volume day in previous open enrollments. That volume could be expected to increase if it were the final day of the period. 

The proposed rules also speak to regulations around special enrollment periods, flexibility in plan design, and how carriers would treat renewing members who owe past-due premiums. 

The comment period runs through March 7 and final rules will be released at some point after that.

Legislative Update 

The Legislature has named new members of the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange Oversight Committee. New to the committee are Representatives Joann Ginal, who represents part of Fort Collins, Chris Kennedy, who represents part of Jefferson County, and Susan Lontine who represents part of Denver. You can find information on the committee and its role on our site, here.

In Recent News 

I was pleased to see The Denver Post took a position endorsing our continued operation in an editorial Sunday. It was written in response to SB 3 that calls for our repeal. The next hearing on the bill is yet to be scheduled.

Take care,

Kevin

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

We gained a lot of positive attention around the state and around the country Monday when we reported the record results of our fourth Open Enrollment period, with more than 175,000 plan selections and 12 percent ahead of last year’s mark. This account in The Denver Post was typical of what we saw in Colorado news outlets.

Legislative Update 

Tuesday’s state Senate Finance Committee debate also brought a lot of attention to our work and although the bill that would repeal our founding legislation did pass on a party line vote (3-2), there was a lot more praise for the accomplishments we have achieved over the last five years than criticism. 

The testimony that followed from about 48 individuals was predominantly in support of Connect for Health Colorado and against the bill. There were three mentions of our award winning Quick Cost and Plan Finder Tool. It is important to remember that we are very early in the process and there are still several steps ahead where the legislation can be modified or killed. 

In Recent News 

The state Division of Insurance and the Colorado Attorney General’s office on Thursday approved the acquisition of Rocky Mountain Health Plans by UnitedHealthcare. The deal will create a non-profit foundation funded by the $36.5 million sale, according to the Attorney General.

Early today the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Georgia Congressman Tom Price for secretary of Health and Human Services. Many expect that approval to trigger more movement in the policy debate on healthcare reform at the federal level. You can read more in the New York Times.

Take care,

Kevin

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

February 6, 2017

Contact:
Luke Clarke, 720-496-2545
LClarke@Connectforhealthco.com

DENVER —  More than 175,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2017 through the state health insurance Marketplace during the three-month open enrollment period that ended Friday, a rate 12 percent ahead of signups one year ago, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®.

“We are extremely pleased with the number of Coloradans who took the important step to protect their health — both their physical and financial health — by choosing coverage through our shopping portal,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson.  “The steady growth we have seen in each of our open enrollment periods shows we are making valuable progress in providing affordable health insurance to a growing number of individuals and families in Colorado.”

Since November 1, Coloradans selected 175,964 medical and/or dental insurance plans (172,361 were medical plan selections) through Connect for Health Colorado. More than one in four (27 percent) of the plan selections were made by customers new to the Marketplace. The other 73 percent are renewing customers.

Sixty-two percent of Connect for Health Colorado customers this year qualify for financial assistance paying their medical premium, which will average $371 per month, per household.

Anyone whose 2016 coverage was not available for 2017 has another month — through March 1— to select health insurance for this year.

The sign up deadline was extended from Tuesday, Jan. 31, to Friday, Feb. 3, to help customers who were part of a last minute surge of plan selections. Coloradans who experience a qualifying life change event, such as marriage, divorce, having a child, losing your employer-sponsored insurance, or those moving into Colorado, have 60 days from that event to enroll in new coverage for 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

Today marks the end of our fourth and by far most successful Open Enrollment period. The number of plan selections ran 12% ahead of last year’s pace and the volume of last-minute customers Monday and Tuesday led us to extend sign-ups for three days for those who started the process before Tuesday’s deadline.

I share this information with extreme gratitude to our dedicated staff, our Assistance Network, our Broker partners, our health insurance company partners and the many other supportive stakeholders who helped us move forward with our shared mission no matter the headwinds we encountered along the way.

In Recent News 
The Clear Choices Campaign — a non-partisan consumer-oriented group representing patients, providers, insurers, employers and life science companies — publicized its rankings this week of 12 state-based marketplaces and healthcare.gov for providing consumers support in selecting health plans and ranked our Quick Cost and Plan Finder tool No. 2. You can find the full report here

Legislative Update
We had the opportunity to share these successes and others with the Joint Health Committee of the Colorado Legislature Thursday, when we presented our annual report.  Next week, we will have another chance to tell our story to lawmakers, this time with the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday afternoon.

Take care,

Kevin

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

February 1, 2017

Contact:
Luke Clarke, 720-496-2545
LClarke@Connectforhealthco.com

DENVER — A third party, non-partisan healthcare group ranked the Connect for Health Colorado® website second among the 12 state-based health insurance marketplaces and HealthCare.gov, in a report card issued this week.

The Clear Choices Campaign released its second annual report card for health insurance marketplaces on Tuesday. The group represents patients, providers, insurers, employers and life science companies. Clear Choices reviewed the Quick Cost and Plan Finder tool developed by Connect for Health Colorado and ranked it for delivering a high-quality online experience allowing customers to evaluate key health plan details. Only three marketplaces – DC Health Link, Connect for Health Colorado, and HealthCare.gov – offer all three decision-support tools considered the gold standard of informed consumer choice; an out-of-pocket cost calculator, integrated provider directory, and integrated drug directory. Click to view the 2017 report card. The full white paper with in-depth analysis can be found here.

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’re very proud of this honor from Clear Choices and believe we play a critical role in helping 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 choose, 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 the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (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, Medicaid and Medicare.

“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.”

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

Connect for Health Colorado announced it is giving consumers who attempted to enroll by the Jan. 31 deadline until 6p.m Friday, Feb. 3 to complete their enrollment. Friday will be the last day to purchase coverage this year, except for customers who experience a qualifying life change event, such as marriage, divorce, having a child, losing your employer-sponsored insurance, or moving to Colorado. Customers who are on hold at 6 p.m. Friday, or in the in the process of enrolling on line, will be permitted to complete their enrollment. One of the easiest ways to get help enrolling for many consumers is by going to one of the 18 statewide walk-in enrollment centers.

About Clear Choices
Founded in 2015 by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, the Clear Choices Campaign is a multi-stakeholder advocacy campaign designed to promote health care transparency and offer better comparison shopping tools for consumers. Members include AARP, Aetna, HealthCare.com, Novo Nordisk, and the National Consumers League

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

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.