by Eileen Hunt, Health Coverage Guide
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since Colorado’s health insurance marketplace opened. Hi, I’m Eileen Hunt and I’m a Health Coverage Guide with our new health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado (C4HCO).
As a Health Coverage Guide (HCG), my job is to help people use the marketplace. If you have health insurance already, you probably don’t need the marketplace. If you don’t have health insurance, though, you’ll want to go to connectforhealthco.com to shop for plans that can meet your needs and investigate the financial subsidies you might be eligible for.
Remember that you need health insurance beginning January 1, 2014 so you have some time to shop. As long as you make your decision and submit your first premium payment by December 15th, you’ll be ready to go!
So far, I’ve been helping people start the process. For the past several weeks, we’ve been answering questions at town halls and public events (we were at the Taste of Colorado!). We’re at different Denver libraries where we give presentations, hand out literature, and answer lots of questions.
For a lot of people, it’s been a long time since they’ve had health insurance, so I explain what’s changing effective January 1. For many, they’re out of the insurance marketplace because they got some illness and their insurance rates went up, the coverage just became too expensive, or they were denied coverage all together.
I explain that NOW you can shop for and buy insurance (that will be effective January 1) without regard to ANY pre-existing condition. The new law prohibits insurance companies from asking about pre-existing conditions OR from using that information to provide insurance rates. Now, we need to know where you live, how old you are, your gender and whether you use tobacco (tobacco users do have to pay more for their insurance coverage). That’s it! No multi-page forms where you had to disclose and document every medical procedure you ever had. You don’t need to worry that if you get very sick with a disease that was very expensive to treat, you could LOSE your insurance because you would have spent too much on your care. The law gets rid of the annual caps on medical spending and the lifetime limits, too!
I’ve met a lot of people who have been surprised and happy to learn this! They’re eager to shop for the plans when I assure them that they aren’t wasting their time only to be rejected again OR the coverage they would qualify for would be ridiculously expensive. For those who are more computer savvy (if they’re very comfortable shopping on Amazon, for example), I tell them to just go to connectforhealthco.com and look around. Otherwise, I tell them to call 855-PLANS4-YOU to start shopping with a customer service representative at our call center.
Finally, I tell people to take their time. There is a lot of information available about the new insurance plans, what the various coverage options are, etc., and they should explore before buying to make sure they get the plan that’s right for them. Again, you have until December 15th to complete your enrollment in order to be covered January 1st, so take your time to learn more about the choices available to you, and take control of your health care.
Send me an email if you have any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org. And maybe I’ll see you at one of our outreach events.