By Charlotte Kaye, Health Policy Fellow
This week, Connect for Health Colorado, Colorado’s new insurance marketplace, released an initial list of entities selected to participate in the Navigator Assistance Network. This is the network of health coverage guides that will help Coloradans enroll in private health insurance plans and access tax subsidies for insurance premiums.
A total of 58 organizations have been selected by Connect for Health Colorado for the Assistance Network. Connect for Health Colorado will train Assistance Sites to present unbiased, quality information and help individuals and small employers apply for healthcare coverage that will take effect in 2014. The health coverage guides at each site will be trained to provide support and guidance for local Coloradans when purchasing new health insurance.
We’ve been looking at the geographic distribution of Assistance Sites, and what it might mean for Colorado consumers. Every county in Colorado will be covered by an Assistance Site. Though a number of rural counties will not have navigator Assistance Sites located within their county borders, residents will have access to Assistance Sites in a neighboring area. There are also some Assistance Sites that will likely provide support in multiple counties/locations and five Assistance Sites that plan to serve as health coverage guides statewide, focusing on serving specific populations like small businesses, families with disabled children, and the Latino community.
The Front Range corridor has the highest density of selected Assistance Sites. Denver County alone will have over twenty Assistance Sites that will serve the city and the surrounding areas. However, notably fewer Assistance Sites will serve the rest of the state. The list of Assistance Sites may change as organizations weigh reduced budgets for serving as Health Coverage Guides or as regional hubs providing support to other Assistance Sites. Given the cuts in the sites’ proposed budgets, whether there is the capacity to help Coloradans enroll in health insurance and get the care they need when they need it remains to be seen. For now, the proposed Assistance Network appears to cover all of Colorado and is an important step forward as Connect for Health Colorado prepares to enroll Coloradans in health insurance starting October 1st. The net has been cast. Here’s hoping it catches the uninsured.