More Help for Colorado Uninsured

CoverColorado Offers More Discounts 

Many people in Colorado go without health insurance because they have a pre-existing condition that prevents them from getting an individual/family policy.  Individual plans are so inexpensive because they perform underwriting and won’t cover pre-existing conditions; they will also decline people with more serious health conditions.  There are many of these people that can afford an individual policy, but get declined and cannot afford to pay nearly 3x more for a “group” policy like CoverColorado or a Self Employed Business Group of One.

The passage of Referendum C in November has given the state of Colorado the ability to cover nearly 1,500 more people that were previously unable to afford the premium for CoverColorado.  Bizjournals reports:

Uninsured people drive up the cost of health care. When hospitals and doctors provide care to people without coverage, they charge paying patients — primarily those with private insurance — more. The practice is called “cost shifting,” and a study by Families USA estimated it cost Colorado families an extra $934 in premiums last year.

CoverColorado, the once cash-strapped nonprofit that provides health care for some of the state’s sickest residents, has a new discount program that will save members $10 million in premiums.  A boost in state financial support has allowed the nonprofit to create a new discount program giving certain people up to 50 percent off their monthly premiums, making coverage much more affordable.

CoverColorado offers insurance to people with pre-existing conditions who have been denied coverage from commerical insurers. The state Legislature created the program in 1990 as a safety net for these middle-income adults and for children. The program is funded by participants’ premiums, state funds and assessments to some private insurers.  However, some critics argue that the program has become so expensive, only the wealthy can afford the premiums. For example, a 60-year-old man in Denver with a $1,000 deductible would pay more than $1,000 a month in premiums, making it too expensive for most people.

CoverColorado already has a discount program, but it has stricter rules. The old program gave a 22 percent discount if your annual household income was $36,000 or less. The new program, which began July 1, gives a 50 percent discount for household incomes of $40,000 or less, and a 40 percent discount for individuals with $40,000-$50,000 in annual household income.

Colorado Indigent Care Program Expands It’s Coverage

The Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP) distributes federal and State funds to partially compensate qualified health care providers for uncompensated costs associated with services rendered to the indigent population.  Qualified health care providers who receive this funding deliver discounted health care services to Colorado residents, migrant workers and legal immigrants with limited financial resources who are uninsured or underinsured and not eligible for benefits under the Medicaid Program or the Children’s Basic Health Plan.  The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) administers the CICP.

The CICP has expanded its coverage to services that are deemed medically necessary, not just urgent or emergent.  And if you live in Northwest Colorado, the Steamboat Pilot reports that Yampa Valley Medical Center is covering costs that CICP might not.  According to Mike Nelson,

“It’s part of our mission and it’s the right thing to do,” Nelson said. “Our financial assistance program keeps expanding and changing for the betterment of our patients.”

Financial assistance at Yampa Valley Medical Center is not just for the uninsured, Nelson said. Some insured individuals and families face high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. CICP and YVMC programs can help with the balance that remains after insurance has paid its portion.

“We have a pretty big window for financial assistance, and 90 percent of patients who apply do qualify for some type of assistance,” Nelson said.

To apply for financial assistance for services at Yampa Valley Medical Center, call 879-1322 and ask to speak to a patient financial counselor.

About Jay Norris

Jay operates a health insurance brokerage in Colorado, where he helps individuals and small groups obtain and maintain health insurance coverage.
Complimenting his work as a health insurance broker, Jay also provides data analysis and creates visualizations that are easily understood by consumers and other stakeholders in Colorado’s health insurance market.

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