February 1, 2017

Luke Clarke, 720-496-2545

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

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.

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

Jan. 13, 2016

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

DENVER – Connect for Health Colorado® announced today that thousands of Coloradans would have additional time to pick new health insurance coverage for 2016 through a Special Enrollment Period.

Individuals and families who are shopping for new health insurance coverage because their health insurance company is no longer offering health plans in their area – or because they had a policy last year that no longer meets the minimum legal requirements – will be permitted to enroll in new coverage through Feb. 29. This includes individuals and families who purchased their 2015 health insurance on or off Connect for Health Colorado’s site.

“We have worked with the state Division of Insurance and our carrier partners to give Coloradans in these particular circumstances a little more time to enroll in a health plan,” said Kevin Patterson, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado®. “But I want to remind everyone who does not have health insurance provided through their employer to enroll now to provide financial security for their family and to avoid a penalty of $695 or more.”

Those who do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period must enroll in a health plan by the end of Open Enrollment on Jan. 31, 2016. That is the last chance for most people to buy health insurance this year and avoid a tax penalty that is expected to average nearly $1,000 per household this year.

The Special Enrollment Period, through February 29 is largely offered to individuals who lost certain types of coverage:

  • Those whose 2015 coverage was with the Colorado HealthOP or Access Health Colorado.
  • Those who were Rocky Mountain Health Plans but are no longer in the company’s redrawn service area.
  • Subscribers of “Transition” plans, which do not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act.

For help with any health insurance enrollment, go to Connectforhealthco.com.

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



Event: Understanding your Healthcare Coverage
Host: Connect for Health Colorado Certified Application Counselors
Time: 4:00 -7:00pm
Location: Valley View Hospital, 1906 Blake Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601