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Connect for Health Colorado is an online, one-stop-shop built just for Colorado consumers to apply for financial help and buy health insurance. Connect for Health Colorado is intended to reflect the unique needs of our state, seek Colorado-specific solutions, and explore the maximum number of options available to the state of Colorado in meeting the goals of access, affordability and choice. In their own words, here are stories from just a few of the Coloradans who have enrolled through our Marketplace:

Basalt, Colorado

Perils of farming make health insurance a must

Farm work is by no means safe work. Physical demands, heavy machinery, sharp tools, and other unexpected dangers are inevitable risks on operations of all sizes. Those without health insurance are nagged by the thought of how much a mistake could cost, both physically and financially. Such was the case with Jimmy Dula, a young farm manager in the Basalt area. But all that changed for Jimmy with the arrival of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The ACA provides me with a peace of mind that I previously considered out of reach. For the first time, I have a primary care physician who I like, I can afford annual physicals and preventive care, and I can maintain my health rather than only seek medical attention when I’m sick.” In 2015, after three years without health insurance, Jimmy qualified for an Advanced Premium Tax Credit through Connect for Health Colorado, making health insurance finally affordable. – Excerpt from the National Farmers Union’s “Beginning Farmers Column”

Denver, CO

Health insurance shouldn't be a barrier for owning your own business

Howard Paul wanted to make photography his full-time occupation but was tied to his job as executive director with an emergency first responders association because it offered health coverage. Having health insurance was driving his choice of how to earn a living. But that issue was resolved for Howard in 2014 when the Affordable Care Act made it possible for him to purchase his own, affordable health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. As a result, Howard Paul Photography for Communication and Commerce is now a Colorado success story.

Having this health insurance not only allowed Howard to make photography his full-time business, it may help save his life. In 2016, Howard was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Knowing his treatments and medications are covered, allows him to concentrate on getting well, instead of worrying about a financial hardship. “Without health insurance I can afford through Connect for Health Colorado, treatment would be nearly impossible. Odds are I would become bankrupt, possibly homeless, even dead.” said Howard.


Protected even in an emergency

Darla, a retired shipping office clerk from Delta, got more than she bargained for during a trip to Greeley to visit her cousin. Running a high fever one evening, Darla went to an Urgent Care facility and was then rushed to the emergency room where doctors diagnosed her with sepsis, an extreme response to infection which can be life-threatening.

It took a month in a Greeley hospital to treat the infection and follow-up treatments in Grand Junction to amputate several toes. At the end of the day, Darla racked up over $1,000,000 in medical bills, enough to bankrupt most people. Fortunately, Darla had coverage she found through Connect for Health Colorado’s Marketplace allowing her to keep her home, her assets and her health!

Living off of a fixed income, Darla’s coverage is only affordable with the help of monthly tax credits, made possible through the Affordable Care Act. Having just signed up for her 2017 coverage, Darla took the important step of protecting her health and finances for the coming year.

La Jara

Getting covered provides the key for Elena to get back to her roots on her family’s farm


With health insurance, Waneta gets back to work and keeps her business open


Dana gets a little help from her Connect for Health Colorado friends.

Grand Junction

Mountain bike? Snow Board? Make sure that you have health insurance to go along with that helmet


With new health insurance, Joaquin’s first doctor visit in years reveals he has diabetes.


Small business owner Craig knows insurance is key to keeping quality employees

Grand Junction

Marty, a graduate student and summer raft guide, knows health insurance is an important life preserver.

Colorado Springs

Danielle just turned 26 and needed her own health insurance plan.


For Melvin, who is diabetic, health insurance isn’t an option.

Northwest CO

Erica spent over 10 years uninsured and with the affordable care act was finally able to get insurance.

Jan and Larry
Woodland Park

Health insurance a potential life saver for this cancer patient

Following is an excerpt form a customer email to a Connect for Health Colorado customer service representative.

“Just so you know, it really was the greatest thing that ever happened that you directed us into the best insurance ever. It brings us to tears when we think that Larry would not be alive right now if it weren’t for you. Your knowledge about the tax deduction along with the right plan, and especially your kindness around what we are going through, was pure proof that you are our angel. The hospital [without insurance] was going to turn Larry away. Our lives have been turned upside down, of course, but we have each other. We hope the scientific study he is in will prove successful. His genes are not good for the chemo and radiation treatments he, so we are counting on the study. The surgeon he had is the best around. Also it shows on the MRI that the cancer is gone. Praying it won’t come back. Larry “knows” it won’t. This is the best medicine as well they say. We thank you more than you could ever know.”


On your own for health insurance? Connect for Health Colorado can help.

“I am extremely pleased with my new Connect for Health Colorado health plan. Having a good health plan is very important to me and should be to every person in the United States. My new employer didn’t offer a health plan, so I was left on my own to obtain coverage.

Having a modest income, all I could afford before 2014, was an unsatisfactory catastrophic insurance plan with a $10,000 deductible. Through the guidance of my incredible Broker, Brad Niederman of Niederman Insurance Agency, I was able to obtain great health insurance. Not only did Brad find a great policy for me, he went above and beyond to help with the entire process of signing up through Connect for Health Colorado. Without Brad’s help, I don’t think I could have successfully navigated through the process. I now have a much broader and better plan with only two-thirds of the premium cost of my old plan.

Thank you very much Brad and Connect for Health Colorado for making my life feel a little more secure with a quality and affordable health plan.”


Signing up for health insurance doesn’t have to be a dreaded event

Previously uninsured, Anna dreaded signing up for health insurance. “I was so happy to find a Health Coverage Guide right in Hotchkiss! I loved working with her, she made it happen so quickly and easily. She was able to answer my questions and explain what things on the application meant. I am now covered and can’t thank her enough for helping me.”

Cindy and Dominick LaJoy
Western Slope

Affording health insurance – no problem for this family of five

Cindy and Dominick LaJoy own and operate several family businesses in Montrose and health care is important to them and their five children. According to Cindy, “The recent changes in health care offerings were quite confusing and left us concerned about what would be the best options for our large family.”

Cindy is pretty tech savvy and spent a good deal of time researching the best options and pricing plans on the individual market. Ultimately, Cindy decided to seek the advice of a certified broker. She looked to her hometown agents and called the Watson Insurance Agency, who has several brokers/agents who are certified by Connect for Health Colorado to assist customers in enrolling and qualifying for financial assistance. “I knew we needed professional advice, and I turned to Watson Insurance Agency. They met with us personally, at no cost, and offered suggestions that led us to savings of almost $600 per month.” Cindy said.


Get covered AND live within your means

After 35 years of teaching elementary and middle school students, Shirley, 57, of Center, CO, decided to retire after the 2013 school year so she could spend more time with her family and grandkids. “Immediately, I thought of insurance – the district had been paying for it. I was totally stressed about being insured.”

Shirley made an appointment with a certified Health Coverage Guide. “With the help of the guide, I found something reasonable,” she says. With $242 in tax credits, Shirley also signed up for a dental plan – and still saved about $140 a month compared to what her COBRA health plan alone would have cost.

“It is such a benefit to sit with somebody on a one-to-one basis to go over plans. I got all my questions answered; all my paperwork was completed before I walked out the door. I hugged the individual who helped me because I was so excited that I would soon have health coverage! It’s exciting to know I have insurance that will allow me to live within my means.”


Marketplace is a good fit for this independent contractor

When Lauren, a 28-year-old advertising account executive in Denver, received her letter, she wasn’t really surprised: Her health insurance company was discontinuing her plan of three years and advised her to shop for a new one.

“I knew I needed to get a new plan that met the requirements of the new law quickly.” After several years working in health communications, and buying her own policy since becoming an independent contractor three years ago, she’s fairly savvy about health insurance. Even though she didn’t qualify for new healthcare subsidies, Lauren compared her options on Connect for Health because I knew all the plans would be legal under ACA. I trusted that it had the latest, state-specific information.”

“There’s a lot of confusion around this,” she adds. “I have friends who are staying in jobs they’re not happy at (so they don’t lose insurance). They don’t know they can buy their own and that this site is for them.”


Better plan, better rate for this Montrose couple

“My husband is a self-employed general contractor in Montrose, Colo. Our insurance rates have tripled in the last ten years and forced us to raise our deductible to $10,000.00. Our premium was almost $900.00 a month. We had to meet the deductible the past three years, which regretfully cut into our retirement.

We made an appointment with Lynn Caretta [a Connect for Health Colorado Health Coverage Guide]. Within the hour we had several options for our new health plan, all of which were extremely better than our current plan. After some deliberation, the plan we chose will save us approximately $600.00 per month and lower our deductible to $2,500.00.

Needless to say we were thrilled with the results. It was a very simple and smooth process. I would recommend everyone to contact Connect for Health Colorado and start 2014 with the comfort of knowing you have health insurance at an affordable rate.”

Del Norte

Widow relieved to not depend on sons for her healthcare

As a nurse whose husband was a family physician in their community of Del Norte, Rebecca, 61, understands the importance of having health insurance. But since her husband passed away in 2007, she has lost health coverage in jobs that either didn’t offer it, cut back or closed.

When she looked into private insurance, the plan she wanted would have cost $1,100 a month. So in October, she went to the new Marketplace where she found a new health plan for $524 a month, and then learned she is eligible for a $510 per month tax credit. “So I’ll be paying $14 a month. Insurance is complicated, but it’s worth it!”

With three grown sons – one a physician, one an attorney and one a teacher – “I think they feel relieved. They’re starting their own families. They don’t need to be taking care of me at this point,” Rebecca says. “I feel great. It feels safe.”

Lynne and Mike

Health insurance shouldn’t cost more than your mortgage

Loveland life coach Lynne, 51, has a separate health insurance policy from her husband Mike, 57, a self-employed musician and guitar instructor. “We don’t go to doctors because our (current) plans don’t really cover anything,” she says. Combined, the couple was paying more than $850 a month for their health plans that also require each pay $5,000 a year out-of-pocket deductibles before insurance will cover medical costs.

In October, Mike began shopping for new insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. “I called the Service Center. It was great,” he says. “The representatives were very patient.” He took his time, researching plans. A plan comparable to what they had would cost them $19 a month for 2014. Another option with far more coverage and lower deductibles would be $216 a month. “At the end, we’re left just picking a company we want to go with,” he says. “The cost savings is fantastic with the subsidies built in. Our healthcare prior to this has cost more than our mortgage. This is amazing, so much better!”

Lela and Michael

Retirement now a realistic goal for this couple

Lela and Michael, owners of the Anything and Everything store in Flager, CO., had almost given up on their dream to retire early. Health insurance costs for the couple – she’s 57 and he’s 60 – had crept up so high “it was the same as the rest or our bills combined.”

Even though they’ve stayed with the same insurance company since 1992, their costs have gone from $350 a month for a family of six, to $1,950 a month just for the couple. “There’s no way we could retire, we couldn’t pay the insurance even working. Our medical costs most years were cheaper than insurance.” She found a plan from their current insurance company for $1,200 a month. “That’s $700! Figure in the tax credit, it brought it down to about $835 a month. Even without the tax credit, it’s amazing.”

What does this mean for the couple? “We can semi-retire and slow down,” she says. While they’ll likely close the store, “Mike is a workaholic, he’ll still buy and trade and do stuff like that. But I’ve worked since I was 12. I’m really looking forward to being a housewife.”

Morgan Honea

Small business can offer choice just like big business

“Connect for Health has worked well for us as a small business. It provides our employees with a choice of health insurance companies and health plans at different price points. The variety of options is something that we could not offer to our employees on our own. Patti Meyer, Small Business Marketplace Manager, spent a lot of time with our employees during open enrollment discussing various health plan options so employees would have the information needed to select the best plan for them.”


Newly graduated? Protect your professional future.

Travis is a recent law school graduate and was previously uninsured. He wanted to start his professional career free from the risk of unpaid medical bills and also wanted to avoid the tax penalty. Thanks to Connect for Health Colorado, Travis is now insured and has peace of mind knowing his financial and professional future is now protected. He’s covered! Best wishes for your future, Travis – you are off to a great start!


When transitioning from work to retirement, make sure you are protected

Debra is a nurse and always had health insurance through work. She is also a Type 1 diabetic and a bilateral, below the knee, amputee. When she retired and returned to Cortez, Debra needed to find high quality health insurance plan that she could afford. She worked with Jon, a certified Health Coverage Guide in Cortez, to guide her through the process of determining her eligibility for tax credits and shop for a plan that met her specific needs. “From what I was hearing from others, I was expecting to pay a lot more. As it was, I got a very reasonable monthly premium and a low deductible. I feel very blessed.” Said Debra.

Wheat Ridge

Tax credits help Marilyn get back on track

For seven years, Marilyn was without health insurance. Her employer didn’t offer it and some companies denied her coverage because she had pre-existing conditions. Marilyn avoided going to the doctor, even though she continued to have a hip that needed surgery and other medical issues that needed care.

In an interview with John Daley at Colorado Public Radio, Marilyn recalled, “I had the disc go out and I was confused and scared.” She was worried about the cost of her treatment. When the Affordable Care Act was passed, Marilyn enrolled in a health plan and with her tax credits, her monthly premium was an affordable $55.00 per month. “That was a very important moment in my life,” Kruse said. “I didn’t realize how important it is to have good insurance that you can afford.”

Casey Clifford & Miles Lahue
Boulder, CO

Family in the health coverage driver’s seat

Casey Clifford and husband, Miles Lahue, are used to managing the details of their architecture and general contracting business. When choosing health insurance for the family – including two kids – Casey felt more confident doing the research herself at “Being able to access all the options, costs and tradeoffs was extremely helpful.” she says. “It is such a difficult thing when you’re a small business and paying for everything yourself.”

Insurance can be complicated, but it was important to dig into the details herself, comparing deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and monthly premiums of various plans. “We’re good at the business side; we can assess the tradeoffs and value, while controlling the spending. And, I’m more educated.” Having a health insurance marketplace is “a step in the right direction because it’s bringing the customer closer to making their own decisions. The more we understand what we’re getting, the more we’re going to be involved in improving healthcare.

The biggest thing is being covered in case of something you never imagined happening, knowing you’re going to be covered if something happens to the most precious people in your life.”

Jo Etta
La Vita

Hard lesson leads to happy, healthy outcome

“In early 2000 I retired. Because I had always been extremely healthy, I decided I didn’t need health insurance. Unfortunately, later that year, I was diagnosed with cancer that required surgery and chemotherapy. The hospital would not schedule the surgery until I made a cash deposit of over $16,000 on what would end up being a $50,000 out-of-pocket treatment. I don’t want to ever be that vulnerable again! In 2006, I was back to work and had coverage through my employer when I received another cancer diagnosis. Now, I’m happily retired, healthy and able to get the coverage I need, despite my pre-existing conditions—thank you Connect for Health Colorado.”


Enrolling is a snap with a certified Broker

“I needed help navigating through all our options for health insurance. Cindy Watson of Watson Insurance & Financial Group, Inc., Montrose, Colorado was amazing. Her knowledge of all the different plans, the details she knew and understood about each plan helped me quickly and easily make a decision. In addition, she filled everything out for me on-line so I had no confusing paperwork nor did I have to sit at my computer and figure out how to get enrolled. When I got home, I did some budget calculations and decided we needed to go to another plan. Cindy and her amazing team made all the changes for me, and did it with a great attitude and incredible efficiency. Cindy Watson and her entire team are AMAZING and saved me hours and hours of work!”

Nancy Koons
Koons & CO, LLC

Contributing to Colorado’s Economy

“Having access to independent health insurance, from Connect for Health Colorado, enabled me to leave my full-time job and start my own business here in Colorado. I am now a small business owner helping other companies with their analytics needs and am loving the freedom and ability to grow my company without worrying about health insurance.”