by Zach Stone, Strategic Engagement Fellow
In Colorado, 13 percent of young adults aged 19 to 29—known as “young invincibles”—are currently uninsured. This rate is significantly lower than it has been in years past. Indeed, the rate of uninsured young adults in Colorado is roughly half of what it was just two years ago, when 25 percent of young invincibles in Colorado were uninsured. However, despite Colorado’s gains in insuring the general population, a noteworthy portion of young Coloradans are still trying to get by without health insurance.
I get that. I’m 23, and until a few years ago, I wasn’t that concerned about my health. That was, until I tore my ACL trying to block a shot in a pickup basketball game. I chased my opponent down, and as I leapt into the air, I envisioned something like this happening.
Unfortunately, what actually occurred was a bit more like this. The incident landed me in a hospital bed for ACL reconstructive surgery.
Thankfully, the whole ordeal was affordable because I had insurance.
So, here’s my message to the uninsured young invincibles of Colorado: you’re only invincible until you’re not. Fortunately, open enrollment is currently underway, so now is the time to get covered! So, if you’re looking to get covered for the first time, change plans, or simply renew your old coverage, here is everything you need to know about open enrollment:
Coloradans have until January 31st to sign up for or renew health coverage for 2016. However, consumers will have to sign up for health insurance before December 15th to obtain coverage starting on January 1st and avoid a gap in coverage. When shopping through Connect for Health Colorado, consumers may be eligible for financial assistance to help cover the cost of their coverage. You can get a sense of whether you may qualify for financial assistance by using this tax credit calculator. Those who choose to go without coverage will have to pay a fine of $695 or 2.5% of their yearly income—whichever is more. For most consumers, the fine will be more than $695.
If health insurance seems complicated or overwhelming, do not fret—you are not alone! Connect for Health Colorado offers free, in-person assistance to help consumers apply for health insurance. Consumers can find enrollment centers in their area using this mapping tool. These centers provide walk in-help at different times throughout the week. Consumers can also use Connect for Health Colorado’s upgraded tool—the GetCovered Connector—to locate local application assisters and schedule free in-person appointments. Finally, Coloradan consumers have the option of finding a broker near them, or signing up to have a broker call them on their phone.
If your insurance carrier is Colorado HealthOP, now is the time to switch coverage. Due to the Division of Insurance’s decision last month to shut down the Colorado HealthOP, all HealthOP members need to find new coverage during open enrollment under a different health insurance provider. All HealthOP members’ coverage will remain in effect through December 31st, 2015, as long as they continue to pay their premiums. However, in order to avoid a gap in coverage, consumers need to sign up for new coverage by December 15th.
If you want to see how health coverage can improve the lives of Coloradans, check out CCHI’s new “Care Matters, Colorado” series, which combines stories of real Coloradans getting covered with interactive graphics. Or, if you’d simply like to get a better grasp on how to most effectively use and shop for health insurance, check out CoveredU or SeguroTU (Spanish), CCHI’s award winning health insurance literacy resource!