What Coloradans Need To Know About Open Enrollment 2018

· Nov. 1, 2017, 10:00 am
Photo: Doctor stethoscope (stock)(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Coloradans will be able to shop for insurance through Jan. 12, 2018 versus customers at HealthCare.gov who have until until Dec. 15, 2017.

November signals the start of open enrollment for Coloradans to sign up for health insurance plans for 2018.

Since the state operates its own individual insurance marketplace, Connect For Health Colorado, the sign up window for insurance will be longer than the federal health care exchanges. Coloradans will be able to shop for insurance through Jan. 12, 2018 versus customers at HealthCare.gov who have until until Dec. 15, 2017.

There’s been a lot of confusion and many have found it hard to keep up with repeal efforts led by Republicans in Washington. The bottom line is that the Affordable Care Act is still in effect. As Connect For Health CEO Kevin Patterson told Colorado Matters, “we are still the federal law of the land.” The state’s exchange has been focused on efforts to promote open enrollment and “making sure folks have access to the programs where they qualify,” he said.

Are all the same insurers participating in the state’s exchange, Connect for Health Colorado?

Yes, all carriers that sold plans last year will continue to sell 2018 plans on the exchange. There was some concern that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the sole carrier selling individual market plans on the exchange in more than a dozen Colorado counties, might pull out. But it decided to stay and keep selling plans.

Are federal tax credits available again this year?

Yes. Those whose incomes are below 400 percent of the poverty line qualify for financial assistance through federal tax credits. That’s about $48,000 for an individual and $98,000 for a family of four. Leaders of the exchange urge customers to shop around as most customers on the exchange do qualify for a tax credit.

Will insurance premiums be higher for 2018?

Yes. The state Division of Insurance calculated that on average premiums will go up 33% in 2018. That’s in part due to uncertainty due to the political fight in Washington over whether and how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. For some insurance carriers, premiums will be up a bit more than 33%, for others it’s a bit less.

Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, what’s happened to the uninsured rate in Colorado?

Since the ACA, Colorado’s uninsured rate dropped from 15.8 percent in 2011 to 6.5 percent in 2017. That’s a historic low. About 350,000 people remain uninsured in Colorado, according to the Colorado Health Access Survey, from the Colorado Health Institute. Some wonder if that trend will continue under the Trump administration. The president has called the ACA a “nightmare” and taken moves to undo it.

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