Grand County network can help with ACA health insurance enrollment | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County network can help with ACA health insurance enrollment

Special to the Sky-Hi News
Grand County Rural Health Network

If you want health insurance for 2015, sign up NOW.

Have you tried to enroll for health insurance this year through Colorado's health insurance exchange marketplace, called Connect for Health Colorado? Chances are you have heard about the difficulties many individuals and families have had this year enrolling in Colorado's health insurance exchange.

In 2014, Connect for Health CO was among the top five state health insurance exchanges in the country for numbers enrolled. This year, however, is a different story. Many people are frustrated when enrolling this year.

The Grand County Rural Health Network has two health coverage guides who help individuals and families in Grand and Jackson counties enroll for health insurance. Their in-person assistance is valuable in trying to negotiate the difficult application process. We are frustrated too and are doing everything in our power to advocate for you individually and as a region.

Why all the difficulties this year? Largely it is due to the new "streamlined" application process, called the "Single Eligibility System" that launched just prior to open enrollment for 2015. Anyone who is interested in enrolling in health insurance and wants a tax credit has to go through the "Single Eligibility System" to first determine eligibility for public insurance like Medicaid or Children's Health Plan Plus (CHP+). Then the system should automatically populate certain data into the Connect for Health CO application, such as your Medicaid denial number (or the Authorization number).

Unfortunately, this "Single Eligibility System" is not working at the speed or level anticipated. In fact, it is making it much more difficult for thousands of Coloradans searching for a tax credit. From what we have been able to determine, this system works great for people enrolling under certain conditions: enrolling for the first time in Connect for Health Colorado's website, and with regular salaried wages, and with all family members needing insurance.

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That means that if you fall into the 'complex' category, you will mostly likely have difficulties enrolling. These categories include: renewing your account from last year; job, salary, or income change over last year's enrollment; seasonal income; self-employed; rental income; additional income such as child support. Also, if you are a family and have a 'complex' insurance set-up, you will have difficulties enrolling. For example, if one parent is covered through work, the children are covered through CHP+, and just one parent is looking for insurance through the exchange and wants a tax credit – you will have difficulties.

If you fall into any of these 'complex' categories, PLEASE contact a health coverage guide immediately.

The deadline to enroll is Feb. 15. It takes five to seven business days to enroll when you are looking for a tax credit. Plus, if you are uninsured in 2015, the tax penalty increases over 2014. In 2015, the tax penalty will be $325 per uninsured person or 2 percent of household income, whichever is GREATER.

Additionally, most people will not have filed their 2014 taxes by Feb. 15 and will not have had the opportunity to see what their tax penalty was. If you want insurance, start now. Do not wait. You will not be able to enroll for insurance for 2015 after Feb. 15.

However, if you have already tried to apply, or try to apply by Feb. 15, and you run into website glitches, call the health coverage guides. They can help push you through the system to get you enrolled. It is a painful process but a valuable one if you truly want health insurance.

The most important thing you need to know is to use the health coverage guides even if you think you can do it yourself. Use the health coverage guides from the beginning and save yourself a lot of time and effort.

We are constantly working with the Connect for Health Colorado board and staff to advocate for people in rural regions and with 'complex' financial or family situations. We too are frustrated with the system, but our goal is to help inform you of your choices and help you enroll in health insurance if you want it.

See the community calendar for the health coverage guide outreach schedule, or go to our website at http://www.gcruralhealth.com. Don't wait! Call for an appointment today, 970-725-3477.

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