Health insurance is a type of coverage that pays for medical expenses incurred by the insured. Health insurance can help protect you from high medical costs and provide access to quality healthcare services.
In this article, we will explain how to buy health insurance in Colorado, what are the different types of health plans available, and what are the benefits of having health insurance.
Affordable Health Care in Colorado
Colorado is one of the states that has implemented the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), which aims to make health insurance more accessible and affordable for Americans. The ACA has expanded the eligibility for Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program), which is a public health insurance program for low-income individuals and families. The ACA has also created the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace, which is an online platform where you can shop for private health insurance plans and apply for financial assistance.
Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program)
Health First Colorado covers a wide range of health care services, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, dental services, mental health services, and preventive care. To qualify for Health First Colorado, you must meet certain income and residency requirements. You can apply for Health First Colorado online, over the phone, in person, or by mail. Health First Colorado enrollment is open year-round.
Federal Affordable Care Act
The ACA has introduced several reforms to the health insurance industry, such as:
- Prohibiting insurers from denying coverage or charging more based on pre-existing conditions
- Requiring insurers to cover essential health benefits, such as maternity care, mental health care, and preventive care
- Providing tax credits and subsidies to help lower-income individuals and families afford health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs
- Mandating most individuals to have health insurance or pay a penalty
Connect for Health Colorado Marketplace
Connect for Health Colorado is the official marketplace where you can compare and buy private health insurance plans that meet the standards of the ACA. You can also see if you qualify for financial assistance through tax credits or cost-sharing reductions. Connect for Health Colorado offers four levels of plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The plans differ in how much they cover and how much you pay in monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Connect for Health Colorado has an open enrollment period every year, usually from November 1 to January 15. However, you can enroll outside of this period if you have a qualifying life event, such as losing your job-based coverage, getting married, or having a baby.
Types of Health Insurance in Colorado
There are three main types of health insurance in Colorado: employer-based health insurance, individual health insurance, and government health plans.
Employer-Based Health Insurance
Employer-based health insurance is a type of coverage that is offered by your employer or your spouse’s employer. Employer-based health insurance usually covers a portion of your health care costs and may also cover your dependents. Employer-based health insurance plans vary in terms of benefits, costs, and networks. You can choose from different options offered by your employer during the open enrollment period or when you start a new job.
Individual Health Insurance
Individual health insurance is a type of coverage that you buy on your own, either through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace or directly from an insurance company. Individual health insurance plans are usually more expensive than employer-based plans, but you may qualify for financial assistance if you buy through the marketplace. Individual health insurance plans also vary in terms of benefits, costs, and networks. You can choose from different options available in your area during the open enrollment period or when you have a qualifying life event.
Government Health Plans
Government health plans are public programs that provide health insurance to certain groups of people who meet specific eligibility criteria. Some examples of government health plans are:
- Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program), which covers low-income individuals and families
- Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), which covers low-income children and pregnant women who do not qualify for Medicaid
- Medicare, which covers people who are 65 years or older, disabled, or have certain chronic conditions
- TRICARE, which covers active-duty military personnel, retirees, and their dependents
- Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, which covers veterans and their dependents
Steps to Buying Health Insurance in Colorado
If you are looking for health insurance in Colorado, here are some steps you can follow:
- Explore your options on the Connect for Health Colorado website. You can use the online tool to compare different plans based on your income, household size, location, and healthcare needs. You can also find out if you qualify for financial assistance or other programs.
- Apply for financial assistance if you are eligible. You can apply online through the Connect for Health Colorado website or by phone at 855-752-6749. You will need to provide some information about your income, household size, and tax filing status. You will receive a notice of eligibility that will tell you how much assistance you can get and what plans you can choose from.
- Choose a plan that suits your budget and health care needs. You can enroll online through the Connect for Health Colorado website or by phone at 855-752-6749. You will need to provide some personal and health information, such as your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and medical history. You will also need to pay your first month’s premium to complete your enrollment.