Guest commentary: Optimism surrounds Connect for Health Colorado’s 6th open enrollment | AspenTimes.com

Guest commentary: Optimism surrounds Connect for Health Colorado’s 6th open enrollment

Linda Gann
Guest commentary

We are four weeks into this open enrollment and in Pitkin 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 Pitkin County households was $725. 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 Pitkin County, here are your local resources:

• Certified Enrollment Center: Devlin Financial, 970-925-9090

• Certified Assistance Site: Mountain Family Health Center, 970-945-2840

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In addition to our in-person, 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. Plans selected between Dec. 16 and Jan. 15 (the end of open enrollment) will not have an effective date until Feb. 1.

This month's 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 wrote: "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 Connect for Health Colorado's Western Slope region. She can be reached at lgann@c4hco.com.

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