by Zach Stone, Strategic Engagement Fellow

John Lee received the news in a letter: his family’s private health insurance plan was being discontinued for 2016. John could keep his personal insurance (he’s insured through Medicare disability) but he still needed to help find new coverage for his wife and two children.

When John reached out to his family’s insurance company directly to see what plans they were offering for 2016, he couldn’t find a suitable option—all of the plans were too expensive. Even worse, he couldn’t find a plan that would allow his family to keep their old doctor and use their old hospital.

A representative from his family’s insurance company suggested that John take a look at the plans offered through Connect for Health Colorado. “You might be eligible for a tax credit,” they said. John had considered enrolling his family through Colorado’s marketplace in 2013, but the financial assistance they were offered at the time wasn’t large enough: Financially, it didn’t make sense.” Perhaps things had changed, he thought, so he decided he would give Connect for Health Colorado another shot.

That decision, literally, paid off. John attended an enrollment event in Greeley and discovered that his tax credit had increased dramatically. With free in-person help from a health coverage guide, John found a plan for his family that was both cheaper and more comprehensive than their previous coverage. “The premiums are lower, the deductibles are lower, the copays are good, and the benefits are greater,” he said. With the financial assistance, John’s family’s monthly premium was $561. The “tax credit part of it was wonderful, that saved us a lot of money.” To top it all off, the plan would allow John’s family to keep their old doctor and use their old hospital: “For me, that was key. I wouldn’t have done it if I couldn’t find our doctor in the plan.” 

Mission accomplished; and John was relieved: “It is a tremendous load off your mind.” “You can’t live without health insurance,” he said, “there are too many things that can wipe you out financially if you don’t get covered.” Moving forward, John simply hopes that his coverage goes as smoothly as his enrollment went. “I had a fantastic experience,” he said.

While John was thrilled with his experience that day, he did have some concerns for the future. Primarily, he is concerned about the inclusivity of insurance networks: “The wider they can make their doctors and facilities to make more included, the better it’s going to be.” After all, John was only willing to select a plan once he confirmed that his family could keep their old doctor and hospital.

Ultimately, John had a simple message for anyone considering attending an enrollment event: “I would encourage everyone to at least come in and try it.” More generally, he hopes uninsured Coloradans will try out health insurance, and see what it means to them: “If you don’t give something a chance, how can you really say that it did or didn’t work for you?” So far, at least, it’s certainly worked for John and his family. 

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