KAJX

Affordable Care Act

Data continues to show that where a person lives in Colorado plays a big role in dictating how much they pay for health insurance. That's because insurers use it to calculate premiums and in some regions it's unusually high. State lawmakers are aware of the problem – but are not sure what the solution is.

"I was seeing upwards of $500 a month," said Sam Higby, a Breckenridge outdoor gear shop employee. He's 35 and healthy, but said on his salary he simply can't afford healthcare.

"It does weigh on me as an active person, being concerned about what might happen out there."

Elise Thatcher

Hundreds of area residents attended a health insurance forum in Basalt on Thursday night. The last-minute event was coordinated by the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, after thousands of locals found out this fall that their coverage will end in January. State Senator Kerry Donovan, the state’s health exchange, and the Colorado Division of Insurance participated.

 

Courtesy

  It’s getting into tax season, and this is the first time residents will have to pay a fine if they didn’t have health insurance in 2014. That’ll be true for 2015 taxes as well, if someone can’t prove they have health insurance this year. For those signing up for health coverage through the statewide online exchange, counties in the Roaring Fork Valley worked together to get as many people signed on as possible. 

Creative Commons/Flickr/Wonderlane

If you’re an adult with Medicaid in the Roaring Fork Valley, there’s just a handful of dental offices that will accept your health insurance. This lack of access is a problem as the number of Medicaid patients increase under the Affordable Care Act. Colorado expanded Medicaid a year ago and in Pitkin County alone, the number of people using Medicaid nearly tripled. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

Elise Thatcher

Garfield County is looking at how much money it can spend-- and save-- next year. Officials introduced the proposed 2015 budget… and it's a lot like the playbook officials had this year, in 2014. But there are some key changes. 

Colorado Medical Society

Health insurance in the Roaring Fork Valley will be cheaper next year for some residents. The average premium will cost about seven percent less. For someone paying three hundred dollars a month, that’s about twenty dollars less for each payment. One reason for that is some doctors and hospitals are treating patients for less. And the state’s top association for physicians is worried that may have unintended consequences.

Colorado Division of Insurance

Health insurance in the Glenwood Springs area will go down by nearly ten percent next year. That’s on average, and it’s compared to an overall average increase of about one percent across Colorado. State officials gave final approval for the lower rates this week. This comes after concerns about especially high insurance in the Roaring Fork Valley, and an earlier flawed attempt to let consumers review rates beforehand. 

Elise Thatcher

If you have health insurance, you can now look up how much it might cost you next year. Colorado's insurance office has posted all rate changes for the coming year, to make sure residents know whether their premiums are going up--and why. But actually finding that information can take hours, and may not turn up results at all. 

Elise Thatcher

     Adjusting to new health insurance rules has been a big shift for just about everyone involved in health care--whether it's patients, nurses or insurance workers. Six months ago the Affordable Care Act started requiring nearly everyone have insurance. We were curious to do a check-up and find out how patients are getting used to new healthcare plans. 

Marci Krivonen

While hospitals across the country work to transition from old-fashioned paper records to electronic data, some doctors in Aspen have already “gone digital.” Aspen Valley Hospital is in the middle of this conversion, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Mountain Family Health Centers

Last month, several people raced to sign up for health insurance before the March 31st deadline. Many of those patients qualified for the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program. Turns out, more people signed up for Medicaid than for private insurance in the tri-county area that includes Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle Counties. Now, doctor’s offices that handle these patients are trying to keep up. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Elise Thatcher

There’s a lot of scrambling going on, as people race to sign up for health care before the national deadline. Today, March 31st, is the last day for most people to sign up for a plan and avoid a tax penalty. Those are the rules under the Affordable Care Act and in Colorado, many people are using the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, to sign up. Government agencies have been trying to make it easy for people to purchase a plan… including a recent walk in clinic last Friday, in Aspen.

connectforhealthco.com

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.

Pitkin County Sees Spike in Medicaid Enrollees

Feb 26, 2014
Creative Commons/Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller/U.S. Army

The Affordable Care Act is helping low income residents in the Roaring Fork Valley get health insurance. That’s according to officials who oversee programs for the poor. More people are signing up for Medicaid and others are purchasing insurance plans from the state exchange. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

In Pitkin County, the number of Medicaid patients jumped 20 percent since October. So, 90 more people are seeking care from doctors who will take them.

Aspen Valley Hospital Welcomes New CEO

Jan 8, 2014
Aspen Valley Hospital

Aspen Valley Hospital welcomed a new CEO last week. Dan Bonk started work at the small, non profit hospital on January 2nd. Before arriving in Aspen, Bonk was an executive at Wisconsin’s largest health care system, Aurora Health Care. The 30-year health care veteran talked to Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen about moving the hospital’s expansion forward and dealing with controversy.

Office of Governor John Hickenlooper

    Governor John Hickenlooper says he could get involved with bringing down health insurance prices. That could have a real impact for residents of the Roaring Fork Valley and other mountain towns. Garfield County asked the state's top official earlier this month to intervene with high premiums. The County believes Colorado officials did a sloppy job earlier this year when coming up with prices. But some experts say the state didn't make any mistakes.

Elise Thatcher

Garfield County wants Governor John Hickenlooper to intervene with the state's new health insurance rules. The county has some of the highest premiums in Colorado under new guidelines, which are part of the Affordable Care Act. The state agency in charge of the new rules recently visited communities around the state to explain why premiums are so high. But Garfield County officials remain unconvinced.

Mountain Edition - October 3rd, 2013

Oct 3, 2013

It’s been a big news week and one story with big impacts locally is the federal government shutdown. We take a look at what it means for the Roaring Fork Valley.

Obamacare hit the internet on Tuesday, turns out, health care plans coordinated by Colorado are way more expensive in mountain towns.

After massive floods walloped oil and gas operations, we hear ideas about making sure oil and gas operations are better protected down the road.

Local officials had to decide by Tuesday whether to take steps to allow retail marijuana in the Roaring Fork Valley. Many have decided to delay their verdict.

We get an update from one of the ten Aspen-area athletes hoping to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia.

And finally, tamales are a humble Latin American dish with deep, historical roots. They’re the main fare at an upcoming Roaring Fork Valley event.

tedeytan/Flickr/Creative Commons

More than two-thirds of Colorado residents say they don’t understand President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That’s according to a USA Today poll taken earlier this month.

codeblackmovie.com

A documentary film featured in this year’s Aspen Filmfest uses a chaotic emergency room to highlight the country's overloaded health care system. Code Black follows a group of young, idealistic E.R. residents who work in what seasoned doctor’s call “C-Booth” at Los Angeles County hospital. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen spoke with Ryan McGarry, an E.R. doctor and the director of the film.

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