As I sorted through the mail last week, I pulled out a nondescript yellow post card from Cover Colorado. On it, I was informed that my health insurance provider is ending operations as of the end of this year in preparation for the new health insurance exchange.
Our state’s manifestation of this health marketplace is called Connect for Health Colorado, and it is here that, beginning October 1, I will be able to search for new health insurance. On the postcard, it states the following: “… you will have more options than ever for health coverage in 2014 and beyond. Since insurance carriers will no longer be able to deny you coverage, or charge you a higher rate based on your medical history, you will be able to choose from a variety of plans.”
This, of course, sounds great in theory, especially in a state where 1 out of 6 Coloradans is uninsured. But everyone seems to be somewhat unsure of what this will actually look like in practice.
Some information about the exchange:
- Connect for Health Colorado will be “open” as of October, and plans will go into effect starting January 1, 2014.
- The website will allow consumers to shop, compare plans, benefits and rates, as well as enroll in a plan. Health Coverage Guides, which is a fancy name for customer service reps, will help guide folks through this process. (It sounds like certified brokers should be available as well)
- Upfront tax credits are available; they will be based off individual, couple and family household income.
- Individuals cannot be turned down for coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
- Individuals will not be asked to provide their health history, other than whether or not they use tobacco or if they are pregnant.
- Individuals can select medical plans that include dental benefits, or choose medical and dental plans separately.
- Plans can be chosen based on preferred medical providers, deductibles or premium amounts.
There is lots more, of course, all of which can be found on the website, especially as it pertains to small business, but these are the things that jumped out. Initial filings with the Colorado Division of Insurance show that 10 carriers have requested approval to provide roughly 150 health plans, which theoretically should provide a great deal of choice and price points.
I’ll be very interested to test that theory when the time comes …