by Matt Valeta, Health Policy Fellow
For over 2 years now, Colorado has been building its health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. Come October 1st, Colorado consumers will be able to browse health plans, compare prices and get estimates for the federal subsidies that they will qualify for if they purchase insurance through the marketplace.
This week, Connect for Health Colorado will submit a $125 million Level 2 establishment grant to the Department of Health and Human Services. This is the final federal grant Colorado can apply for, and it will cover implementation and the first year of operational costs for Connect for Health Colorado.
A large portion of this grant will go to the technology needed to run the marketplace. Connect for Health Colorado must be able to interface with state and federal systems and be ready for consumers to use to compare potential health plans.
However, one of the most important parts of the Level 2 establishment grant is funding for Connect for Health Colorado’s assistance network. Even if the marketplace works beautifully, Coloradans are not guaranteed to automatically use the marketplace. Thousands of Coloradans have never enrolled in health insurance before. Connect for Health Colorado’s assistance network will provide in-person, over the phone, and online support for Coloradans using the marketplace to purchase health insurance.
In community discussions with consumers about Connect for Health Colorado, Coloradans emphasized the importance of face-to-face assistance when they are enrolling in plans. So, while Connect for Health Colorado’s original Level 2 establishment grant allocated $10.6 million for the assistance, CCHI, along with other several other advocacy organizations and several Colorado legislators, successfully urged increasing the amount of funding for the assistance network to $13 million in the Level 2 grant.
The upcoming open enrollment period is an exciting opportunity to get Coloradans covered so they can see their doctor when they need to, without unpredictable costs. Coloradans need the support necessary to make sure that they enroll in a health plan that gets them the care that they need when they need it. The Level 2 establishment grant and the assistance network are critical to helping move Colorado toward this common-sense goal.