Category: Legislation - Part 4

Left out — health reform bypasses some immigrants, resort workers

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon GLENWOOD SPRINGS The young couple faced a tough choice: have their first baby in their hometown in Colorados priciest mountain resort area or travel instead to Mexico City. Because the 23-year-old woman was uninsured and an undocumented immigrant during her pregnancy, the birth in Colorado would have cost the couple thousands of dollars out of pocket. The womans 27-year-old husband is a U.S. citizen who grew up in Illinois, but works in Glenwood Springs, the bustling city where many service workers live about 40 miles down valley from ritzy Aspen. He gets insurance through his job,…

Health insurance like buying a BMW for some Spanish speakers

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon When new Connect for Health Colorado ads launch this fall, Spanish speakers will hear a different message from other potential customers. The call to action will be Come and learn rather than Come and buy, the message that will bombard most other customers. Thats because many Spanish-speaking immigrants dont even ponder buying health insurance since they think its out of reach financially, according to a consultant who is advising Connect for Health. Spanish speakers have the perception that health insurance is not an option for them so they are not looking for health insurance, Melissa Burkhart, founder of the translation…

New red light warning for Colorado exchange

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Twenty-two days before the slated opening of Colorados new health exchange, the project manager issued yet another red light warning, signaling that data-sharing with Colorados Medicaid systems may not work by Oct. 1 and that Connect for Health Colorado managers might have to shift to contingency plans. On top of troubles meshing with the states Medicaid systems, managers at Connect for Health Colorado are contending with IT snafus from the federal government. Managers warned Colorado board members on Monday that the Social Security Administrations data system likely will be offline for four hours every night from about 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. MST…

Calls begin flowing to Colorado exchange

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon COLORADO SPRINGS Obamacare moved one step closer to becoming reality in Colorado this week. Consumers can now talk with live customer service agents if they want to learn about options to get tax credits and buy health insurance through Colorados new health exchange. The number is: 1-855-PLANS-4-YOU (1-855-752-6749). Connect for Health Colorado officially opened its call center this week and dozens of agents are now standing by in a refurbished warehouse where calls started flowing in on Tuesday. Consumers cant sign up for health plans yet. Nor can they determine exactly how much theyll get if they qualify for tax…

Confused about Obamacare? There’s an app for that

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon While politicians continue to argue over the fate of Obamacare, consumers are deeply confused about what reform may mean to them and how they can find help. A new tool aimed at delivering answers debuted in Colorado this week: the Blue Guide from the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative . Its mobile. It offers statewide information. And if you tell the website or app where you are, it will use geolocation to instantly show you nearby clinics, mental health centers or assistance sites where you can sign up for health insurance once Colorados new health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado , launches on Oct. 1. Consumers can…

Exchange preps for snafus — like squirrels

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Squirrels and software snafus have brought down NASDAQ over the years. Last weeks debilitating three-hour crash of the financial exchange appears to have been triggered by a software glitch, proving that even long-established networks can be vulnerable to catastrophe. In Colorado, an exchange of a different sort Connect for Health Colorado is bracing for different disasters: blizzards, floods and severed data lines. But the most likely potential problems center on connections with Colorados Medicaid computers, insurance industry websites and the federal data hub, which must provide information on tax subsidies to help cut the cost of new health plans. Two weeks…

Rates higher in resort areas, college towns

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon People living in resort areas of Colorado will have to pay higher health insurance rates than those in other regions when plans start being sold through the states health exchange on Oct. 1. An average 40-year-old non-smoker living in a resort area who is buying a mid-level silver plan could be charged a base rate as high as $667 per month compared to the least expensive silver plan for a comparable 40-year-old in Greeley, whose base rate would be about $232 per month. Shoppers will also be able to choose from lower level bronze plans and…

Colorado approves 242 health plans for exchange

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Colorados Division of Insurance has approved 242 plans from 13 carriers for the states health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, which is slated to open on Oct. 1. Deputy Insurance Commissioner Peg Brown briefed members of Colorados health exchange board on Monday on plans that her department has reviewed and approved. Were very pleased with the number of carriers and plans. It represents a wide variety of choice for the Connect for Health marketplace and healthy competition in the Colorado insurance marketplace overall, Brown said. Of the approved plans, 150 are targeted at individuals while 92…

Tech errors prompt red light warning for exchange

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Just seven weeks before the Oct. 1 launch of Colorados health exchange, managers said that their IT systems are not getting accurate data from state Medicaid systems, prompting a warning to board members Monday. Adele Work, the project manager who leads technology for Connect for Health Colorado, shifted her readiness estimate for synching with state systems from yellow, meaning cautiously moving forward,to red, meaning not ready. She highlighted her concerns Monday that state IT systems may not properly communicate with the exchange systems by Oct. 1. Work said shes prepared to shift to contingency plans on…

Senior tsunami threatens Colorado’s healthy outlook

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon KEYSTONE Colorado faces daunting challenges in providing a healthy environment for both its oldest and youngest citizens, according to a new report from the Colorado Health Institute. The report, Reaching Our Peak: Creating a Healthier Colorado, assesses how Colorado rates in five major areas that affect health: schools, workplaces, communities, medical providers and places where we age. The Colorado Health Institute unveiled the report at this weeks Colorado Health Symposium , a gathering of state and national health leaders sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation. Colorado scores lowest for healthy aging, according to the reports authors who warn that a senior tsunami will wash ashore in the coming decades. Colorados fastest-growing age…