by Maggie Dunham

This week, in addition to celebrating the Affordable Care Act’s 2nd birthday, CCHI, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy (CCLP), and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG)  released a new consumer report, “Exchange Implementation in Colorado: Engaging the Consumer Perspective.” This report is a compilation of input from Coloradans across the state on access to health care and health care reform.  After visiting 27 locations statewide and accumulating feedback from more than 700 Coloradans, we now have a documented testimony of how an Exchange can be best implemented for the Colorado consumer.

The project held community forums and focus groups across Colorado to gather consumer opinion.  Questions and discussions were prompted in a qualitative format to identify direct reflections on Colorado implementing the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange (COHBE).  Resounding results circled around the topics of consumer assistance, website navigability and transparency of available health plan options.

Findings and conclusions included participants valuing functionality of the COHBE website, comparable to other major websites.  When use of the internet is not available, consumers requested the ability to connect directly with a live person to communicate questions and concerns, rather than be directed by an automated telephone system.  Coloradans want clear explanations of benefits and pricing, while being able to directly identify which plans meet their individual needs.

In terms of understanding COHBE itself, Coloradans would like to see COHBE reduce customer costs, while offering equitable health plans in the Exchange.  Participants identified sentiment that the COHBE board should be representative of Colorado consumers, and not be overrun with health insurance carriers.  This report distinguishes Colorado values and experiences, which speak directly to what health care reform is working to cover.  The entire synopsis can be accessed and digested here.

Maggie Dunham is a Policy Intern at CCHI and a Master of Social Work Candidate with the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work.

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