According to a June 2013 Gallup poll, nearly half (43 percent) of uninsured Americans are unaware that they are required by law to carry health insurance by January 1, 2014. In Colorado, that translates to more than 350,000 Coloradans who may not know that they have less than five months to find health insurance coverage.
The new health insurance requirements come with penalties for those who do not comply. Consumers who do not secure health insurance coverage in 2014 may have to pay fines of $95 per adult or 1 percent of adjusted family income – whichever is greater. Fines will escalate in future years. With October’s open enrollment period just around the corner, now is the time to get educated.
To help prepare Coloradans for new health insurance requirements, Colorado HealthOP, Colorado’s first statewide nonprofit health insurance cooperative (CO-OP), offers advice to help individuals make the best choices for their personal and financial health.
“Recent changes in healthcare make it possible for more people than ever to have access to affordable, quality health insurance,” said Julia Hutchins, chief executive officer of Colorado HealthOP. “The biggest challenge the healthcare community faces is educating Coloradans – whether they are uninsured, underinsured or unhappy with their current health insurance – about the options that are now available and how to access them.”
In preparation for these new health insurance requirements, Colorado HealthOP recommends Coloradans follow six steps to get health insurance coverage:
1.Learn more about how health reform affects you and your family. Changes in healthcare affect every Coloradan. Colorado HealthOP offers details about how the changes may impact you and your family on its website www.COHealthOP.org.
2.Ask your employer about coverage. If you are employed, find out if your employer will offer health insurance in 2014. Recent changes in healthcare make it more affordable for many small employers to cover their employees.
3.Familiarize yourself with Connect for Health Colorado. If you do not receive healthcare coverage through your employer, you have the option of purchasing an individual plan through Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. Enrollment begins October 1, and you will start receiving coverage January 1.
4.Find out if you qualify for tax credits. Many individuals and families are now eligible for tax credits to help cover the cost of health insurance. Colorado HealthOP can help you determine whether you qualify. Visit Colorado HealthOP’s website or call 720.627.8900 to speak with an insurance expert.
5.Do your homework. Individuals and families will have access to a variety of health insurance plans from multiple carriers. While many will look at cost as a major factor in their decision-making, there are other important considerations, such as:
Do you prefer working with a nonprofit or a for-profit health insurance company?
Does the company offer wellness benefits or incentives to help your family stay healthy and save money?
Does the company have a reputation for good customer service?
Visit www.COHealthOP.org for more information about Colorado HealthOP’s plans.
6.Sign up! Be informed before open enrollment starts. Sign up to receive information so that you’re ready to enroll for health insurance coverage in October.
“Unfortunately, the people who are most affected by the new health insurance requirements are those who are least aware of what they need to do,” Hutchins continued. “As a health insurance cooperative, we are committed to providing affordable, quality and hassle-free coverage. We are also dedicated to helping Coloradans take charge of their own healthcare decision-making.”
For more information about Colorado HealthOP or to learn more about how changes in healthcare affect you or your family, visit www.COHealthOP.org.