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, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024.
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 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 that qualify for them. Every household that pays more than 8.5 percent of its income qualifies for federal tax credits to help afford health insurance. These enhanced subsidies are available through 2025.
Before 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.
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:
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:
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 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.
Connect for Colorado offers several kinds of plans, including the new Colorado Option plans. Developed exclusively for the state, they offer free primary care and mental health visits along with other no-cost services.
Most Connect for Health Colorado plans are organized into three categories:
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 begins.
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 Feb. 3, 2023, with updated information about open enrollment.
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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