The public health and economic crises that have been created by the COVID-19 pandemic have created a great deal of uncertainty and highlighted the need for a robust and responsive safety net. In Colorado and across the country, government, business, the nonprofit sector and, of course, the health care system are rapidly responding with ways to assist. The following is a list of resources for accessing health coverage and health care. The State of Colorado has a dedicated webpage for COVID-19 information and updates: https://covid19.colorado.gov/.
IF YOU CURRENTLY HAVE COVERAGE
If you have health care through commercial health insurance coverage that is regulated by the state of Colorado (look for “CO DOI” on your card if you aren’t sure), then there are no co-pays for COVID-19 testing. (Note that if you require treatment after testing, expect your health insurance’s cost-sharing measures to apply – i.e. copays, coinsurance, deductible, etc.) Insurance companies must also cover telehealth appointments with no copays and provide at least one early refill on prescriptions.
IF YOU ARE UNINSURED
CONNECT FOR HEALTH COLORADO
Many people are finding themselves without a job or otherwise losing health coverage. The State of Colorado created a special enrollment period that is open until April 30 for anyone who is currently uninsured and wants to apply for insurance. Connect for Health Colorado has health insurance with financial help to reduce the cost of monthly premiums. Financial help is available to single adults making up to about $49,000 per year and families of four making up to about $103,000 per year. You may also qualify for reductions in out-of-pocket costs (lower copays, deductibles, etc.) depending on your income. Check out the online tool to estimate your financial help. You can apply online, call the Connect for Health Colorado call center (855-752-6749), or get help applying from an insurance broker or community-based health coverage guide.
Remember! Some life change events will qualify you for a 60-day enrollment period to sign up for insurance. These include the birth of a baby and loss of job-based coverage or Medicaid. So, if you have insurance beyond the current special enrollment period, but then lose it or experience one of these life-change events, you can enroll in private insurance through Connect for Health Colorado or you may qualify for Health First Colorado/Medicaid coverage.
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO
For Coloradans with low or no income (up to about $1,385/month for an individual or $2.854 for a family of 4), Health First Colorado-the state’s Medicaid program-is open any time for enrollment. Children and pregnant women with family incomes that are too high for Health First Colorado (up to about $5,580 for a family of 4) can qualify for the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). You can apply online for Health First Colorado or CHP+ using the state’s online application, PEAK.
HOSPITAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Colorado hospitals are required under state law to provide financial assistance to uninsured patients under 250% of the federal poverty level. Many hospitals also provide additional charity care programs as well. See CCHI’s hospital financial assistance page for more information.
IF YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER ARE UNDOCUMENTED
Public programs should not exclude any group, including immigrants, from primary and preventive care, particularly in a public health situation like this. While public programs in Colorado are not available to undocumented immigrants, there are resources for receiving care. Our partners at the Center for Health Progress have compiled information in English y en Espanol.
CCHI continues to work to increase access to and affordability of health care, and toward improving consumer protections for people who are accessing the health care system. No one should have to go without needed health care services due to an inability to afford health care and no one should face financial instability because they accessed health care services. Last year, Colorado passed out of network billing protections in Colorado.
If you are struggling to understand your medical bill, or need help negotiating with a provider or insurance company, contact our Consumer Assistance Program.
PRIORITIZING EQUITY, ACCESS, AFFORDABILITY AND CONSUMER PROTECTIONS
The pandemic has demonstrated how important it is to have a highly-functioning health care system that meets everyone’s needs. Unfortunately, it is also highlighting the gaps and inequities in the health care system as communities facing systemic barriers to care due to race, income, immigration status, or for lack of needed programs like paid family/sick leave will likely be disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and ensuring economic instability. CCHI is unwavering in our pursuit of consumer protections, and greater access and affordability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life and has created a great deal of uncertainty around what policies will be possible to pursue once the Colorado General Assembly reconvenes. We will pivot our strategies to pursue policy changes that are responsive to the urgent needs that have been created by the pandemic. And, we will continue to pursue policy changes that improve the health care system and consumer protections over the long term. As we work on these parallel tracks, our priorities will remain:
- Advancing policies to improve access to comprehensive, high-quality health care for all Coloradans, especially the uninsured.
- Advancing policies to improve health care affordability.
- Ensuring robust consumer protections and industry accountability to patients.