Category: Legislation

Insurance carriers vow equal coverage for transgender patients

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon The Colorado Association of Health Plans has become the first trade group of its kind in the nation to promise equal coverage for transgender patients. Colorado is always first in health care. It seems like were right out front, said Ben Price, the associations executive director. As far as industry trade groups, I havent heard of another group that has done this yet. I know a few are looking at it. As shopping for health plans intensifies before next weeks deadline to get coverage starting on Jan. 1, Price released a statement assuring customers that exclusions will no longer apply. We…

Cancer patient’s insurance still on hold

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Cancer patient Donna Smith is stuck in limbo again. Smith has been trying to buy health insurance through Colorados exchange since opening day on Oct. 1. She worries now that she might not have her new health insurance on Jan. 1 as she had hoped. Smith, 58, is a two-time cancer survivor now facing a relapse. Its frightening. Its maddening, said Smith. I cant go without insurance. Back in October, Smith struggled to create an account because Colorados exchange, Connect for Health Colorado , had some IT glitches when it launched. A few days later, Smith filled out an extremely…

Enrollments, wait times jump

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Enrollments in Colorados health exchange jumped in December with an additional 5,094 people signing up for private health insurance during the first eight days of the month, according to exchange officials. But enrollments remain well below Connect for Health Colorados lowest projections and managers are now considering revising those projections downward. (Click here to see projections.) In the meantime, wait times to talk with a customer service agent at the exchanges call center have increased to 30 to 40 minutes. Theyre long, exchange CEO and Executive Director Patty Fontneau conceded during a Monday board meeting. Long wait times and other snafus concerned board…

‘Don’t give up,’ commissioner urges angry ski resort residents

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon FRISCO Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar wants to reduce high health costs in mountain resort communities, but cant fix anything until 2015. Salazar met with a standing-room crowd of irate Summit County residents on Thursday to hear their concerns and explore solutions for health insurance rates that are up to three times higher than other parts of the state. The area is home to several of Colorados premier ski resorts including Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin. Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder, who represents this region, earlier told Solutions he will seek waivers so people in…

Exchange boss withdraws request for pay hike

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon The head of Colorados health exchange is withdrawing a request for a raise. The attention about my compensation has been a distraction at a time when we are all focused on helping Coloradans enroll in health coverage, Patty Fontneau, the CEO and executive director of Colorados health exchange said in a written statement Friday. We have asked the board to table any discussions about compensation for management, so that we can focus on enrollments during this critical time, Fontneau said. Its unclear from the statement whether any other exchange staffers will be eligible for annual pay…

Boomers dominate health sign-ups

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Baby boomers are signing up for Colorados health exchange at much higher numbers than the so-called young invincibles who are critical to the success of health reform. Colorados health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, this week released basic demographic data for the first time since the exchange opened on Oct. 1. Of the 9,980 people who signed up for health insurance in the first two months, 6 percent are ages 18 to 25. Another 11 percent are 26 to 34 years old. Most health analysts define young invincibles as people younger than 30. But even including…

Canceled plans won’t be resurrected in Colorado

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Colorado is joining about a dozen other states that are not requiring health insurance companies to revive canceled health plans. Those states include California, Washington, Vermont and New York, according to the lobbying group, Americas Health Insurance Plans. Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar on Tuesday said that more than 95 percent of the 250,000 people in Colorado who received cancellation notices have had the option to renew their old plans and continue them into 2014 if they chose to do so. For those whose plans were canceled, Salazar said that insurance carriers will not have to reinstate the plans. President…

Price of smoking could increase under ACA

By Jane Hoback As with most aspects of insurance, its a calculated risk. Do you lie to save a few bucks? Do you admit to that pack-a-day habit and just accept the possibility you could pay higher health insurance premiums? Or do you tell the truth so you can access free stop-smoking treatment and save those extra bucks anyway when the surcharge is eliminated once you do? Thats the prospect smokers face as they sign up for health insurance under the new regulations created by the Affordable Care Act. Depending on the plans they choose, smokers and other tobacco users…

Racy ads rile lawmakers

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon A Colorado lawmaker has threatened legislation to clamp down on Colorados health exchange after a partners racy ad campaign went viral around the U.S. Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, attacked a social media campaign launched by the liberal group, Progress Now, and health advocates at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. The campaign used provocative photos to encourage young people to buy health insurance. The most racy ad feature a young woman flashing her birth control pills and saying she hopes its as easy to get a hot guy between the covers as it was to get…

Exchange boss wants pay hike

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Patty Fontneau, the CEO and executive director of Colorados health exchange, has asked for a raise and could receive a pay hike plus a bonus by years end. Any debate over Fontneaus salary will happen behind closed doors. A spokeswoman for the exchange said executives requested that any compensation discussions happen in executive session. Those sessions are not open to the public, but Fontneaus salary and any increases will be public. Colorados exchange board meets today, but its unclear how soon theyll review Fontneaus performance. She is paid $190,550 a year and received a 10 percent…