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.”
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, 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.”
“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.”
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!
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.
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 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 ConnectforHealthCO.com. “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.”
“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.”
“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!”