How to Sign Up for ACA Health Insurance in Colorado

Posted on 10/21/22 by Jessica Ravitz, Natalie Missakian

En español | Most Coloradans are eligible to buy health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, during open enrollment, which runs from Nov. 1, 2022, through Jan. 15, 2023.

Residents who experience a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, a move or lost health insurance, may be eligible to buy or change coverage outside the open enrollment period. Uninsured residents may also be able to enroll during a special enrollment period during tax season.

Most people already enrolled in ACA marketplace plans have seen their premiums go down because the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act increased tax credits for insurance premiums and expanded the number of households who qualify for them. Every household that pays more than 8.5 percent of their household income now qualifies for federal tax credits to help it afford health insurance. These enhanced subsidies are now available through 2025.

Prior to the 2021 law, such tax credits were available only to people earning less than a certain salary ($54,360 for one person).

Most Americans with a marketplace plan can save an average of about $800 per month with the new assistance, according to the federal government.

  • Colorado residents, including legal immigrants, are eligible to buy insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. More information about who can enroll is on Connect for Health Colorado’s website.
  • You may also qualify for Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid plan, which offers health care coverage with no monthly premium to low-income people and families. There’s also Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), low-cost public health insurance for certain children and pregnant women. When you apply for an insurance plan through Connect for Health Colorado, you'll learn if you might qualify for one of these free or low-cost options, which are described on the marketplace website.

  • Connect for Health Colorado open enrollment begins on Nov. 1, 2022, and runs through Jan. 15, 2023.
  • You can enroll outside of open enrollment if you experience a qualifying life event, but in most situations you have only 60 days from that event to enroll. Qualifying events include certain moves, births and adoptions, loss of employer-provided coverage, marriage, divorce and other special circumstances. 

  • If you’re a new customer, you can enroll at any time if your household income is no more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($19,320 for one person or $39,750 for a family of four). Coverage starts on the first of the month after you enroll.

    You apply for coverage and choose your plan at the same time. As soon as you submit an application with Connect for Health Colorado, you'll learn what coverage you're eligible for. If you qualify for private coverage, you can shop for plans and continue the enrollment process immediately. If you're eligible for a public plan, such as Health First Colorado or CHP+, you’ll receive an email or letter from the state with information about next steps.

    If you enroll in a private plan, your coverage will not begin until you’ve paid your first monthly premium.

    To apply and enroll:

    • By phone: Call Connect for Health Colorado’s customer service center for enrollment and application assistance at the toll-free number 855-752-6749 (if calling inside the United States only) or 303-590-9675. If you’re hearing-impaired, call the TTY line at 855-346-3432. Representatives are available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. MT, Monday through Friday.
    • In person (or virtually): Contact an enrollment center near you to set up a virtual or in-person appointment with a certified insurance broker or enrollment assister. Or attend an enrollment event in your area.

    Coverage and cost depend on where you live, the type of plan you choose, your household income, the size of your family and the age of you and your family members.

    If you qualify for Health First Colorado coverage or CHP+, you will be able to get free or low-cost insurance and may not need to worry about premiums or copays.

    All Connect for Health Colorado plans cover essential health benefits, including:

    • Emergency services and hospitalization
    • Maternity and newborn care
    • Mental health and substance use disorder services (including counseling)
    • Outpatient hospital care
    • Pediatric services, including dental and vision
    • Prescription drugs
    • Preventative care

    Insurance companies cannot deny coverage because of preexisting conditions. When you apply, you can identify your medical needs and choose a plan that makes financial sense for you and your family.

    All Connect for Health Colorado coverage plans include basic dental and vision services for children, but adults who want dental and vision insurance must add these plans to their policy. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs vary between plans.

    Every eligible household that pays insurance premiums that exceed 8.5 percent of annual income qualifies for federal tax credits for insurance premiums through 2025.

    According to Megan O’Reilly, AARP vice president of government affairs for health and family, recipients ages 50 to 64 have already seen average annual savings of $950.

    Yes. If you qualify for a premium tax credit, you may also qualify for a cost-sharing reduction that would help you pay for such out-of-pocket expenses as deductibles, prescriptions and copays. You must enroll in a Silver-level plan to get this assistance.

    Most Connect for Health Colorado plans are organized into three categories:

    • Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums, the highest deductibles and copays, and cover roughly 60 percent of care costs. These plans are designed for those who are healthy and rarely go to the doctor.
    • Silver plans have moderate monthly premiums, deductibles and copays. They cover about 70 percent of care costs and potentially much more, if you come from a lower-income household and qualify for cost-sharing reductions — a subsidy only available through silver plans.
    • Gold plans have higher monthly premiums, lower deductibles and copays, and cover roughly 80 percent of care costs. These plans are intended for those with medical conditions that require ongoing attention.

    Coloradans under 30 can also apply for a catastrophic health plan that offers a low monthly premium, a very high deductible and exists to protect customers in worst-case scenarios.

    Connect for Health Colorado’s Quick Cost & Plan Finder tool helps you estimate costs and benefits of various plans and check whether you might qualify for financial assistance. The site also offers tips for choosing the plan that’s right for you.

    If you already have affordable coverage — through your employer, your spouse’s employer or Health First Colorado (Medicaid), for example — you will not qualify for financial help offered through the marketplace plans. More information about who’s ineligible for Connect for Health Colorado coverage is on the marketplace’s website.

    If you’re independently enrolled in a private health insurance plan, not through an employer, you may qualify for significant savings if you switch to a Connect for Health Colorado plan. But you may need to wait until open enrollment.

    If you lose your COBRA coverage, you may be able to sign up for a Connect for Health Colorado plan during a 60-day special enrollment window. Try to apply and select your plan through Connect for Health Colorado before your COBRA coverage ends to make sure there’s no gap in coverage.

    If you already have a marketplace plan and want to adjust your coverage, you'll need to wait until the next open enrollment period this fall, unless you experience a qualifying life event.

    That depends. Connect for Health Colorado offers plans from a variety of insurance providers – including Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Denver Health, Rocky Mountain Health Plans/UnitedHealthcare and others. However, insurance companies may have different networks of doctors or providers for different plans, so before you select a plan, you may want to check its provider network to see if your doctor is included. You can also contact the insurance company to learn more about in-network versus out-of-network providers and what that means for you and your costs.

    Connect for Health Colorado’s quick cost & plan finder tool shows you which medical providers or facilities accept which plans.

    It depends. Some family members may qualify for subsidies to enroll in a private health insurance plan while other family members qualify for public plans like Health First Colorado (Medicaid) or CHP+. Family members in the same household may qualify for different programs because of their age, income, disability, or caregiver status or immigration status. Such families may still be able to see the same doctor or go to the same medical practice, depending on the types of insurance plans accepted or whether their provider accepts Medicaid coverage.

    If you're not sure what makes the most sense for your family, get free advice from a certified insurance broker or assister.

    This guide was updated on Oct. 21, 2022 with new information about participating insurance companies and a special enrollment period for new customers with lower incomes.


      This story is provided by AARP Colorado. Visit the AARP Colorado page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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