Southern Colorado Connections

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

We are officially one week from the beginning of the seventh Open Enrollment period. The excitement around the office is building! We’ve started our marketing efforts and have already heard that people are using our Quick Cost & Plan Finder Tool to compare plans and prices.

Even though I thought my own South by Southwest tour was over, I was able to make one more stop in Pueblo before Open Enrollment begins. I enjoyed spending time with friends from southeastern Colorado at the annual Action 22 meeting last week. As we aim to improve coverage in rural Colorado through advocacy, it was a pleasure to connect with so many community leaders and remind them of our network of brokers, enrollment centers and health coverage guides to serve their needs this Open Enrollment. We discussed the impact of the lower rates for southeast Colorado, and the importance of shopping in order to see savings.

I’ll keep you updated as our enrollment period begins and want to thank you in advance for helping us get the word out that we are open for business for 2020 plans next Friday!

Our Public Comment for Colorado’s State Public Option

We formally submitted our comment regarding the Proposal for Affordable Health Coverage Option (HB 19-1004) Draft Report. You can read the comment here, as well as my initial statement about the report.

Take care,

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

Getting Customers Ready to Enroll

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

By now, you’ve likely heard the good news about plan offerings for 2020.

Given this news, it is important that we remind customers to review their options. Shopping for coverage that is best for each Coloradan is of paramount importance. Plans are now available for our customers to start reviewing in our Quick Cost and Plan Finder tool, and Open Enrollment officially begins on Friday, Nov. 1.

To help customers get ready to enroll, several of our assisters, brokers and health coverage guides are holding in-person events around the state. We have a robust list on our events page of our website and on our Facebook page, and will add events as we go through the Open Enrollment Period.

On the Policy Front

Last week, federal judges in three states issued injunctions on the public charge rule, two of which are nationwide. This puts the public charge rule on hold while lawsuits proceed.

We know that even though the final rule is on hold, there are still several concerns. As a reminder, we created a document including a list of immigration law resources to help.

Take care,

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

2020 Insurance Rates Released

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

With the season’s first snow also came a big week for us. Yesterday, Governor Polis and the Colorado Division of Insurance released the offerings for 2020 health insurance plans.

I’m pleased there is a lot of good news to share with this year’s rates, as the average individual health insurance premium next year will be 20.2 percent lower, likely due to the reinsurance program. That number reflects the savings our customers would see before the financial help available is applied, of which 77 percent of current customers qualify.

As we dig into the details to learn what Coloradans will pay this year for insurance on the Marketplace, we’re also seeing the need for customers to shop for a new plan in order to lower their premiums in 2020. Shopping may even help customers enroll in a plan with more rich coverage. For some, costs for Gold plan premiums will be comparable to Silver plan premiums after the financial help is applied. Others may find a Bronze plan with very low or even $0 premium.

And another piece of this year’s puzzle is that while premiums are going down, the average financial help amount for enrollees who qualify will decrease as well. That’s why ensuring that our customers review plans for their needs will be important. Read more in our press release.

Plans will be available for our customers to start reviewing in our Quick Cost and Plan Finder tool shortly, and Open Enrollment begins Nov. 1.

No matter how people prefer to shop, we know our partnering assisters and brokers will be ready to help customers get the information they need to feel confident about their health insurance choice this Open Enrollment period. Thank you in advance for your help getting Coloradans ready to enroll.

Our State’s Version of a Public Option

The Colorado Sun does a nice job diving into the details of the Proposal for Affordable Health Coverage Option (HB 19-1004) Draft Report. I also issued a statement, since the State is proposing to offer these new options through Connect for Health Colorado.

In the News

You can read coverage about this year’s plan rate offerings in Colorado Public Radio’s piece or Denver Channel7.  

Take care,

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

CoverCo Tour Wraps Up

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

We are wrapping up our CoverCO tour today. In case you missed it, the CoverCo tour was a similar event to the previous Building Better Health (BBH) conference. But this time, instead of one event in Denver, we took the show on the road to six communities throughout Colorado. I’ve been impressed with the turnout at each event, reminding me how it important it is to bring many of us together to prepare for Open Enrollment.

As Connect for Health Colorado staff have been going from town to town for the CoverCo events, I also criss-crossed the state with them finishing my version of my South by Southwest tour. I continued my face-to-face visits with partners in Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Telluride, Alamosa and Pueblo. 

While at the CoverCo events and on the road, I heard loud and clear the many concerns about the recent Public Charge policy change. We know there is confusion about what is and what is not included in the final rule and how it affects the residents you serve. You can read the presentation that our partners delivered at the CoverCo events, and we have created a list of immigration law resources and information to provide you some guidance.

We are also in high gear getting ready for the seventh Open Enrollment period, opening November 1. Lots more to come in the next few weeks about this year’s plan offerings.

In the News

The Colorado Health Institute released the 2019 Colorado Health Assessment Survey last week. The Colorado Sun article describes findings about the uninsured rate in Colorado, among many other interesting data.

You may also find this Washington Post article about the Affordable Care Act a good read.

Take care,

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

On the Road

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Before our next Open Enrollment period begins, I am pleased to have the opportunity to visit communities on what I like to call my very own South by Southwest tour.

This week, I was honored to sit on a panel for the Longevity Project in Glenwood Springs. The Longevity Project is an annual series the Post Independent (the local newspaper) hosts and is focused on mental health. The goal of the series is to not only look at problems, but also examine potential solutions. Read more about the takeways from the powerful event.

While in Glenwood Springs, I visited with staff from the Mountain Family Health Centers. Hearing first-hand what the staff is doing to assist residents is impressive.

On Thursday, I opened the CoverCO event in Grand Junction. The CoverCo tour is brought to you by the organizers of Building Better Health (BBH) to bring the training and network opportunities to six communities around Colorado, focused on local conversations, training and networking. While in Grand Junction, I am also excited to see many of my friends on the Western Slope at QHN’s annual summit and at Club 20’s fall conference steak fry. 

Next week, I’m heading to Telluride, Alamosa and Pueblo to continue face-to-face visits with our partners.

Updated Website

If you’ve been to our website this week, you may have noticed some changes! Our marketing team worked to redesign the main gateway to our business: www.ConnectforHealthCO.com. We redesigned the navigation of the website, streamlined the content to make sure it is digestible and the site is also mobile-friendly now.

Please take time to click around and familiarize yourself with the new site. I think you will be pleased with the ease and readability.

Take care,

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

See you on the CoverCO Tour!

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

It’s that time again! As we begin gearing up for Open Enrollment, we hope to see many of you at our CoverCO Tour kicking off next week. We partnered with the organizers of Building Better Health (BBH) to bring the training and network opportunities we all appreciated from the BBH event to six communities around Colorado, starting next Thursday in Greeley. The smaller groups around the state will allow attendees to have more focused local conversations and networking. Please join us at the location closest to you (Greeley, Durango, Grand Junction, Keystone, Pueblo or Denver).

If you haven’t already signed up for the full day session, please register here.

We are also inviting a broader audience to participate in the afternoon session, which will focus on community health needs in each region.  If you’d like to attend just the afternoon community health conversation, please register here.

We look forward to discussing how we can work together to improve affordability, access and choice for Coloradans buying health insurance through the Marketplace closer to home!

Take care,

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

Updates From Our Office

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

August is already almost half way through, kids are going back to school and we are now less than 90 days out from the start of our seventh Open Enrollment Period, which has been scheduled from Nov. 1, 2019 – Jan. 15, 2020.

Connect for Health Colorado Happenings

Since I last reported out to you, I visited with brokers and assisters in Cortez and Durango, had a good discussion with the Southern Mountain Ute Tribe and met with media in Glenwood Springs.

I also had the opportunity to meet with our Legislative Oversight Committee to talk about our preparation for Open Enrollment and to discuss some of our anticipated milestones in the year ahead.

This week, we also announced the addition of two board members and I’ve hired Monica VanBuskirk as our new Chief Policy and Relationships Officer. Monica will oversee our overall policy and marketing strategy. We are thrilled to have her join our Executive Team!

Healthcare News Mixed Locally and Nationally

Colorado’s reinsurance waiver has been approved by CMS. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our first look at the preliminary individual market rates for 2020 indicated that premiums could decrease by more than 18 percent across the state if this occurred. This is an important step in the right direction of addressing our state’s affordability concerns, and another example of how Colorado continues to lead the nation in finding innovative solutions to our healthcare challenges.

On the other hand, I am concerned about the Public Charge final rule and the negative connotations for people who need to access healthcare. Connect for Health Colorado made our concerns known when the proposed rule was released last year. We are evaluating the final rule, as we believe this will increase the overall uninsured rate and have negative impacts to the health insurance market.  We will be watching closely to see what happens next on the national front, and in the meantime, we are having conversations with state partners on how to move forward.

Take care,

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

Coloradans may see a 18.2% decrease in premiums in 2020

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

I hope you are staying cool through the heat of summer!

In case you missed it, there is some big news to share this week from the Division of Insurance and the governor’s office. It was an honor to join Gov. Polis to hear firsthand the exciting news of the projected decrease in premiums of 18.2 percent for Coloradans purchasing health insurance through our marketplace. These numbers are dependent on the reinsurance program moving forward, which still requires federal approval. A second set of rates filed indicates the state would see an increase of 0.5 percent if reinsurance is not approved. As a reminder, our organization and our board have voiced our support for the reinsurance bill.

The press release also notes that all seven health insurance companies are returning to the marketplace and that another, Oscar Health, is joining. All of this news is a very promising sign that the work being done in Colorado to help address affordability, access and choice for consumers is progressing.

I’ve also been making my way out west recently. It is rewarding to continue to have conversations with stakeholders in various parts of the state to help me continue to understand the needs around Coloardo. Last week, members of the Western and Rural Colorado Health Care Coalition and I met to discuss Western Slope healthcare reform. This week, I am visiting with assisters and brokers in Dover Creek, Cortez and Durango. I’m also eager to meet today with leaders of the Southern Ute Tribe, to renew our commitment to finding ways that we can work in partnership to address the healthcare needs of their members.

In the News

You may find it interesting that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurers are generally profitable from numbers reported for the first part of the year.

Take care,

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

Visiting with our Assistance Network

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Happy Summer Solstice! It’s been a busy few weeks for Connect for Health Colorado staff, who have been criss-crossing the state meeting with close partners and business owners to see how we can continue to meet the needs of Coloradans in order to increase access, affordability and choice for purchasing health insurance. From Steamboat and Glenwood Springs, to Pueblo, Alamosa and Trinidad, we are visiting with our Assistance Network. It’s encouraging to hear both their successes and challenges from the most recent Open Enrollment as well as their goals for the coming year.

I also recently attended the second stakeholder meeting for House Bill 1004 (Proposal for Affordable Health Coverage Option), and there is now a website set up where you can find presentations and recordings from meetings.

In the News

I spoke with Paul Demko from Politico (scroll to Regulations section) about the potential effects of new HRA rule. You can also read more about it at Brookings.

Take care,

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

Reaching Coloradans This Summer

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

It’s hard to believe that kids are finishing school for the summer. Now that the weather is improving (fingers crossed), it’s a great time to get out and about. While Open Enrollment is closed for this plan year, every day we see more Coloradans with life change events enrolling through us.

From Chaffee County, to Aspen and Glenwood Springs, to Fort Collins and Broomfield, our partners like you are participating in fairs, events and conferences throughout the summer to help ensure Coloradans know about health coverage options. Our staff will also be at the Juneteenth Festival in Denver on June 15th. Come say hello!

While out at these events and in your daily work, thanks for helping us remind our customers to contact us to report life changes (like getting a job or having a baby). We know that things change during the year that can affect health insurance coverage and it is important that customers update their Connect for Health Colorado account if any of information changes, including a new address, or if there are changes to income or to family size.

Thanks, as always, for your hard work helping us accomplish our mission to increase access, affordability and choice for individuals purchasing health insurance in Colorado.

We’re Hiring

We’re hiring a Chief Policy and Relationships Officer who will lead the advancement of our communication, marketing, stakeholder and policy teams. This position will help us shape the future of health care in the state. Please share the job description and direct interested parties to apply through our employment page.

In the News

The Colorado Health Institute released their 2019 Legislation in Review Report, noting where policymakers landed on health policy.   

Take care,

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