Short term health insurance is your best option if you missed open enrollment

Short term health insurance plans don’t have an open enrollment period Short term health insurance plans may be the best option if you missed open enrollment and you don’t have a qualifying event. Get short term health insurance quotes Qualifying events include marriage, divorce, birth, adoption, moving to a new area where different plans are […]

Colorado making great progress covering the uninsured and underinsured

Last November, the 2013 Colorado Health Access Survey was released with a variety of updated data, including the number of Colorado residents who were uninsured in 2013:  about 741,000.  That was down from 829,000 two years earlier, but is still 14% of our state population.  And it doesn’t include the people who are considered underinsured […]

Connect for Health Colorado Updates On The End Of Open Enrollment for Health Insurance in 2014

Back in October, six months probably seemed like plenty of time to have open enrollment for health insurance in 2014.  And for all the procrastinators out there – you know who you are! – there was always tomorrow.  But we’re now down to just one week remaining in open enrollment.  The good news is that […]

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to spread ACA open enrollment across the whole year?

As we head into the final few weeks of open enrollment, there’s likely to be a surge of applications both on an off the exchange.  And that means an uptick in phone calls to carriers and brokers, ID cards and policies being mailed out, premium payments being processed… all of the things that go along […]

All The Risk That’s Fit To Print

Bob Wilson did a great job with this week’s Cavalcade of Risk, hosted at his Worker’s Compensation site.  Lots of great stuff in this edition, so be sure to check it out. I particularly liked David Williams’ post about CVS and tobacco sales.  I was happy to see the news recently that CVS was ditching […]

Connect for Health Colorado Exceeding Enrollment Targets

By February 17, Connect for Health Colorado had enrolled 79,779 people in private health insurance plans, and another 128,219 in Medicaid.  Prior to the start of open enrollment, CMS published monthly enrollment targets for each state – based on those numbers, Colorado’s target for the end of February was 73,600 people enrolled in private plans. […]

If You Read One Thing Today, Pick an Article That Debunks An ACA “Horror Story”. Here Are Two…

David Harlow’s “In like a lion” edition of the Health Wonk Review is full of great articles – be sure to head over and check it out.  My favorites in this edition include posts from Joe Paduda, Wendell Potter and Maggie Mahar. Joe gives us a great summary update of what’s going on with Obamacare. […]

Understanding Drug Formularies On New Individual Health Insurance Plans In Colorado

Colorado residents only: Compare how each health insurance company covers your medication with our exclusive Colorado prescription drug formulary transparency tool. Opponents of the ACA have raised the issue of drug formularies as a negative aspect of the new ACA-compliant plans, complaining that the new plans won’t cover all of the medications people need.  Just like many of their […]

Valentine’s Day HWR – Something for Everyone

Steve Anderson hosted the “Be Mine” edition of the Health Wonk Review this week, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  He put a lot of love into it, so make sure you check it out! My picks for most interesting reads in this HWR are Joe Paduda’s post about the newly-proposed GOP alternative to the […]

It’s Not Just About Supply And Demand For Labor – The ACA Makes Life Better, Increases Choices

Last week, the CBO released a report that sent the internet into paroxysms of spin.  Initially – and much to the delight of ACA opponents – numerous media outlets reported that the CBO was predicting a loss of more than 2 million jobs over the next decade as a result of the ACA.  Then they […]

Future Healthcare Expenses Will Not Necessarily Mirror Past Expenses

I recently wrote an article responding to the Americans for Prosperity video about Emilie Lamb that has been making its way around the internet.  I spoke with Emilie and took a good look at the plan she used to have, comparing it with her new Platinum plan.  To sum it up, her old plan was […]

What to look for when comparing Connect for Health Colorado plans

Many of the health insurance regulations in the ACA have made it easier to compare apples to apples in the individual health insurance market. There are no more “junk” plans with low benefit maximums or major holes in the coverage. All policies cover maternity (although that has been the case in Colorado since 2011). Preventive care is covered before the deductible with no copays or coinsurance. All policies must cover the essential health benefits with no annual or lifetime maximums (there can still be limits on the number of visits for some treatments). And all policies must have out-of-pocket maximums of no more than $6350 ($12,700 family) in 2014.

Other than Catastrophic plans, which are available for people under 30 and those who have a hardship exemption from the exchange, which includes people who had a 2013 policy that was terminated in December, all policies available in Connect for Health Colorado (and off-exchange too) fall into one of four categories: bronze, silver, gold or platinum (virtually all of them are bronze, silver or gold though). Also, Catastrophic plans aren’t significantly less expensive in Colorado. The designation is based on the actuarial value of each policy. Bronze plans cover roughly 60% of costs; silver, 70%; gold, 80%; and platinum, 90%. After the maximum out-of-pocket is met, all policies cover 100% of covered costs (with some rare exceptions, such as policies that put an annual limit on the number of covered visits for services like home healthcare and skilled nursing).

But comparing apples to apples still takes quite a bit of reading. Within each metal level, there’s a wide variety of different plans available from the many different carriers offering policies in the exchange (Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Colorado HealthOP, Elevate by Denver Health, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, United Health). Networks vary considerably, but so do the plan designs comparing apples to apples with a wide variety of plans from the many carriers offering policies in the exchange (Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Colorado HealthOP, Elevate by Denver Health, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, United Health). Differing deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums

Our Glass Is Half Full And We Like It That Way

David Williams hosted a great Health Wonk Review this week, and it was interesting to see how he divided the articles into optimistic and pessimistic viewpoints, with one section for “glass half full” articles, and another for the “glass half empty” ones.  It’s a reminder that there are always different ways of looking at the […]

Carrier Contact Information And Updates For People Who Need To Pay January’s Premium

Today, January 10th, is the payment deadline for most Connect for Health Colorado policies with January 1 effective dates.  A few carriers have pushed the deadline out a little bit: Updated  Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is moving the payment deadline to 1/31 for 1/1 effective dates. Delta Dental:  January 15. Premier Access Dental […]

Do Not Assume Your Provider Network Will Be The Same As It Was Last Year

A description of PPO, HMO, EPO and a search tools for all carriers is available here. EDIT 2/18/14:  Connect for Health Colorado updates the provider directory once per month.  It is possible therefore that the list may not be up-to-date at all times.  If you have questions, you can call your carrier directly, or contact […]

Kicking Off 2014 With A Great Risk Round Up

Michael Stack from Workers’ Comp Resource Center hosted the first Cavalcade of Risk for 2014, full of lots of good risk-related articles.  If you’re looking for a really interesting read, I recommend David Williams’ post about medical child abuse and a case that has pitted Boston’s Children’s hospital against a patient’s parents.  David links to […]

Updates For Colorado Residents Enrolling In Exchange Plans After December 23

Connect for Health Colorado is one of only five exchanges that extended the enrollment deadline for a January 1 effective date out beyond Christmas Eve.  If you’re in Colorado, you have until the end of the day today (December 27) to enroll in a plan and get a January 1 start date. If you enroll […]

Dear Santa: Can you help me pick my favorite entry in a stellar HWR?

Julie Ferguson hosted one of the best ever Health Wonk Reviews yesterday at Workers’ Comp Insider.  Definitely something for everyone – and lots of holiday cheer – in this “Dear Santa” edition.  I had so many favorites that I couldn’t narrow it down to just one or two, so here are my votes for the […]

What Is An Essential Health Benefit (EHB)?

Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) are one of the most important aspects of the ACA’s transformation of the individual health insurance market (they also apply in the small group market, but group policies have historically been more benefit-rich than plans sold in the individual market).  In the past, insurers were given tremendous leeway in plan design; […]

Pediatric Dental on 2014 Individual Health Insurance Policies in Colorado

If you’re confused by the new pediatric dental requirements, you’re not alone.  Here’s a rundown of how the ACA and HHS regulations impact pediatric dental coverage, with Colorado-specific details: The ACA defines pediatric dental coverage as one of the ten essential health benefits (EHBs) that must be covered on all new individual and small group […]

The Cavalcade of Risk – making us all smarter since 2006

Be sure to check out the latest Cavalcade of Risk, hosted by David Williams.  For all of us who love a nurse, Julie Ferguson’s post from Workers’ Comp Insider is an eye-opener… not only do nurses face on-the-job violence and abuse from patients, but also from other staff members.  And Mom and Dad Money has […]

Good News From the Health Wonks for ACA Enrollment in 2014

Jason Shafrin hosted the latest Health Wonk Review at The Healthcare Economist, and it’s an excellent edition.  It’s mostly all about the ACA, and there are lots of different viewpoints to consider.  One of my favorite posts in the HWR is from Health Affairs, written by Rick Curtis and John Graves. Rick and John make […]

Tobacco Use: ACA and Colorado Regulations

Back in January, I looked at the issue of tobacco use and the ACA from a mostly philosophical perspective.  But we also wanted to provide a summary of what’s going on here in Colorado with regards to tobacco and the new health insurance policies that are available for 2014.  Although the ACA has eliminated the practice of […]

Catastrophic Plans Not Significantly Less Expensive In Colorado

Even if you’ve been paying pretty close attention to media coverage of the ACA over the last few years, you might not know a whole lot about the ACA’s catastrophic plans.  They haven’t been heavily publicized by HHS or the rest of the Obama Administration, they’re not eligible for subsidies, and they have relatively thin […]

Thanksgiving Cavalcade of Risk

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to the 197th Cavalcade of Risk!  If you’re a brave soul who relishes the thought of a family dinner filled with spirited debates about healthcare reform, insurance and risk, we’ve got plenty of fodder for your conversations.  Just don’t steer the conversation over the line into politics, especially after a glass […]