Optimism surrounds sixth open enrollment | SkyHiNews.com

Optimism surrounds sixth open enrollment

Linda Gann, senior manager of the Western Slope Region for Connect for Health Colorado.

We are four weeks into this Open Enrollment and in Grand County our early numbers are already above last year’s record-setting pace. The number of initial sign-ups is the strongest start to an Open Enrollment Period we have seen since opening six years ago.

We don’t know for certain what has driven so much early interest, however our analysis of the rates and plans offered by our health insurance company partners, along with significant monthly cost savings for qualified Coloradans, may be part of it. On average, Connect for Health Colorado consumers renewing for 2019 — with financial help — will see a drop in their net premium of 24 percent.

It’s important for residents to know that Connect for Health Colorado is the only place to qualify for monthly cost savings on private health insurance. In 2018, the average monthly savings for Grand County households was $821. As good as these averages are, it is as important as ever that our consumers review all their options; and look beyond the premium alone and at the total cost of coverage and their own individual situation.

If you purchase your health insurance on the individual market, and would like local expert assistance in Grand County, you can reach out to:

• Three certified, independent brokers – contact them at ConnectForHealthCO.com > Get Help

• Certified Health Coverage Guide – Kim Long, Grand County Rural Health Network, (970) 725-3477

In addition to our local assistance, we offer an award-winning online tool that allows consumers to easily compare their health insurance options side-by-side. The platform walks members through a series of questions about themselves, their financial status, typical coverage needs, doctor preferences, and necessary prescriptions.

Whichever way you prefer to enroll, remember that you must select a plan by Dec. 15 for an effective coverage date of Jan. 1, 2019. Plans selected between Dec. 16, 2018 and Jan. 15, 2019 (the end of Open Enrollment), will not have an effective date until Feb. 1, 2019.

The Mid-Term Election

The mid-term election reminds us of our bipartisan roots and the continuing oversight of Connect for Health Colorado by representatives of both political parties.

In a recent blog, CEO Kevin Patterson writes, “It’s good to remember that the original idea for a state health insurance marketplace (they called it a “Connector” then) originated with a panel formed by Republican Gov. Bill Owens. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, occupied the governor’s mansion when the group delivered its recommendation and our outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper was in office to sign the legislation when Republican and Democratic legislators passed a bill creating the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, which does business as Connect for Health Colorado. That bill ensures that legislators in the minority and in the majority party share seats on our 10-member legislative oversight committee and each party names members to our board of directors.”

If anything has been constant in our organization’s history it is the inevitability of change, whether it’s in market dynamics, regulation, or the public policy environment. In the past, when confronted with change we thrived.

Linda Gann is the senior manager of the Western Slope Region for Connect for Health Colorado.

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