The deadline for most Coloradans to get health insurance in 2014 is less than two weeks away and, efforts to get people covered is ramping up. Connect for Health Colorado will hold events in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Rifle over the next two weeks.
Officials with the state-run health insurance exchange says 100,000 people have already purchased plans on their website and they expect a surge of interest as the deadline gets closer.
Myung Kim is the Director of Communications and Outreach at Connect for Health Colorado. She says the deadline applies to most uninsured individuals and families.
"If you don’t have insurance through your employer or if purchase it by yourself, or if you don’t have Medicaid or Medicare, you’d have to sign up by March 31st."
...Or, you’ll face a penalty of either 95 bucks or 1-percent of your annual household income, whichever is greater. People can sign up for insurance through Connect for Health’s website. There are other options too, says Vincent Plymell of the Colorado Division of Insurance.
"People are also free to buy insurance from insurance companies directly, they also can buy it from a broker or an agent," he says.
Myung Kim says more than half of the people who have purchased plans through Connect for Health Colorado qualified for a tax credit, which brought down the price of their plan.
"The average amount of money that people are saving on their premium per month is $277," she says.
For those who don’t qualify for tax credits, the premiums are significantly more expensive in mountain communities than other parts of the state. Insurance companies say the expense of health care is higher here. State officials are investigating why that is.
In the lead-up to the deadline, Connect for Health is holding events around the state where they match those shopping for insurance with a certified broker and a health coverage guide.
"You can get your questions answered or you can get materials, but the focus at these events is to have the computers and the internet access there, so you can sit down and go through the application process with that expert sitting next to you."
As of March 8th, Connect for Health Colorado reports 1210 people in Pitkin County purchased plans through their exchange, with 752 Garfield County residents using the marketplace and 1076 in Eagle County.
Upcoming Connect for Health Colorado enrollment events:
March 19th: Carbondale City Market, 10am to 1pm
March 19th: Rifle City Market, 2pm to 5pm
March 27th: CMC campus in Glenwood Springs, 8am to 5pm
March 28th: Pitkin County Library in Aspen, 9am to 4pm