Recently, I sat down with Donna Wehe, the Connect for Health Colorado Hub Coordinator for the San Luis Valley and Southeastern Colorado region. We spoke about the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, and how Wehe and her team helped thousands of Coloradans find health insurance that fit their needs.
Elario: Give us an update – did very many people enroll?
Donna: Yes! There are a great number of Coloradans who now either have health care coverage through expanded Medicaid or who found affordable plans in the Marketplace. We have helped more than 118,000 Coloradans get commercial health insurance, as well as supporting many of the 158,000 Coloradans who have been enrolled in Medicaid.
Elario: That is pretty wonderful news. Congrats to you and your team. The rollout of the Healthcare.gov website, along with glitches in getting people signed up seemed to dominate headlines in healthcare in recent months. How complicated was the process?
Donna: It wasn’t without some glitches. Colorado’s website and support services are excellent, but it wasn’t painless. It was like building your bicycle while riding it. It’s sort of a dual application process, so learning how Medicaid and the private Marketplace differentiate between household income size and calculating adjusted gross income were learning curves for the Guides.
Elario: I’ve heard mixed results about the “affordability” part of the “Affordable Care Act.”
Donna: For the individual marketplace, the financial assistance is based on income, household size, geographic location, age and tobacco use. We found that for the lower-income folks, there is some amazing assistance. In fact, some people were able to afford dental insurance as well. I can’t speak for the higher-income, private-pay, and employer sponsored plans. The perception of what is “affordable” is different for every situation.
Elario: Now that the deadline has passed for the individual mandate, what is next for you and your team?
Donna: One thing we’ll do is explain the penalty and show people what their options might look like for them (as well as those who want to make changes) during the next Open Enrollment Period (November 15-February 15). Another is to continue signing eligible people up for Medicaid. We also will meet with small business owners and talk to them about their possible tax credits if they’d like to offer health insurance as a benefit to their employees. Qualifying life change events will open up a special enrollment period as well.
Elario: What is an example of a life changing event?
Donna: An example would be if someone gets married or divorced, has a baby, moves to Colorado, or loses their coverage. These are just some of the qualifying events that could allow them to shop and enroll outside of the open enrollment period.
If you would like more information about the Affordable Care Act or would like to go over your health insurance options, you can reach Donna and her team by calling 719-587-1369.