by Amber Burkhart, Health Policy Fellow

While most Coloradans are still enjoying the heat of the summer, Connect For Health Colorado (C4HCO) is gearing up for open enrollment, starting November 15, 2014! Using lessons learned over the past year, the staff at C4HCO is working hard to ensure that effective outreach strategies are in place and that the website is ready for go-live.

First, to re-energize important stakeholders for open enrollment, Connect for Health Colorado is helping host a kick-off event on October 14th and 15th. Sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation, this event will bring together assistance sites, brokers, and nonprofits, as well as members of the Division of Insurance (DOI), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF). The event will feature different training and breakout sessions, as well as several keynote speakers. These sessions will undoubtedly aid in developing a roadmap for open enrollment – a key focus of the two-day event.

On the marketing and outreach side, C4HCO is also working very closely with advisory groups to help identify education events and messaging for open enrollment. One of the major lessons learned during the last enrollment period is that messaging can significantly vary by audience. A high priority for this year is marketing targeted towards young adults, Hispanics, low-wage workers and small businesses.

Although online, mobile, TV, and radio are important outreach strategies, Connect for Health Colorado is continuing its effort to connect with local communities directly. Using wrapped vehicles as marketing billboards, C4HCO will be traveling across the state to host short-duration enrollment events. Connect for Health Colorado is also considering setting up retail enrollment sites located in key population areas during high volume deadlines. These walk-in sites were a big success last year and would be staffed by brokers, health coverage guides, and certified application counselors.

The operations side has also been tightly coordinating with DOI and health insurance carriers to send out timely renewal notices. Carriers must send out notices to all their members to let them know open enrollment is approaching soon. Notices will be sent as well if a member’s plan is being discontinued or if a plan’s benefits have changed.

As for those individuals receiving financial assistance, C4HCO is responsible for sending out notices to let consumers know if their financial assistance is changing and what the new price of their plan will be. This notice will be co-branded by both Connect for Health Colorado and the carrier – these will be sent out no later than November 15th 2014. Notices for plan renewals will be drafted by DOI and available for public comment in the near future.

One of the most significant improvements for the consumer shopping experience will be the shared eligibility system. C4HCO is working with HCPF to consolidate all eligibility into one place. This will provide a more seamless shopping experience allowing consumers to inquire about tax credit eligibility without having to sign into two systems or fill out separate applications for tax credits and Medicaid. Simplifying this complex shopping module also allows consumers to move through the process more quickly. Starting September 15th, brokers and health coverage guides will go through training on this shared eligibility system. C4HCO will continue to monitor the new system to smooth out any glitches. 

With the bevy of changes and improvements Connect for Health Colorado has seen over the past year, it is sure to be another successful open enrollment period! For more information please go to or call 855-752-6749.

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