“Can you explain the enrollment dates?”

The next open enrollment period for Connect For Health Colorado and coverage for 2018 begins on November 1, 2017 and extends through January 12, 2018.  After January 12th, you can get new private health insurance for 2018 that will mitigate the tax penalty only through a special enrollment period if you have a qualifying life event which includes: loss of adequate health insurance coverage, employer-sponsored coverage becomes unaffordable, gain of citizenship or legal immigration status, change in incarceration status, loss of eligibility for the exemption to purchase health insurance coverage, you got married or were legally united through a civil union or domestic partnership, your legal residence has change, your income has changed enough to impact your eligibility or amount of financial assistance.

If you feel you have a qualifying life change event you will have a 60-day special enrollment period in which you may shop for a new health plan through Connect For Health Colorado to avoid tax penalties.  If you have questions, please send an email to healthcareguide@glbtcolorado.org. To schedule an appointment, please go to: Assistance Network a.k.a. Aunt Bertha.

“Why is the new healthcare law important to LGBT people?”

The Affordable Care Act offers important benefits and protections for the LGBT community here in Colorado. Under the new healthcare law, it is illegal to deny any individual health insurance based on sexual orientation or gender status. Starting in 2014, insurers will not be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, including transgender people and people living with HIV/AIDS. The new healthcare law will also make it easier for same-sex couples to find health insurance providers that cover domestic partners. This feature will also be available for small businesses seeking plans for their employees.  As Kathleen Sebelius says, “The Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities.”

“What is Connect for Health Colorado?”

Connect for Health Colorado is the online health insurance marketplace and support network where individuals, families and small employers can shop for and buy health insurance based on quality and price. Customers will have access to new financial assistance – based on income – to reduce costs, expert help both in person or over the phone and customers can shop for and compare plans before purchasing.  They have a great new tool to help consumers shop for coverage with a minimum information prior to a true enrollment.  The tool estimates the realistic cost of each plan and will help consumers decide if their plan will cover their current physician and any medications they are currently taking. It is available here: Plan Finder.

“Why is it important for me to buy health insurance?”

Buying health insurance helps to protect you and your family from having to pay high costs when one of you is injured or becomes ill and needs medical care.  No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most of us need to be treated for an illness or injury at some point in our lives. Health insurance helps pay these costs. In addition, health insurance helps cover the costs of wellness care that can prevent illness and promote good health.

The cost of health care has gone up sharply over the past few decades.  A serious injury or illness or other major medical need can cause major financial problems if you don’t have health insurance.  Medical bills are the top cause of personal bankruptcy in this country.  Having health insurance protects your health and your financial future.

“Which companies will I be able to choose from?”

The following 7 insurance company’s intend to provide health plans through the marketplace: Anthem, Bright Health, Cigna, Colorado Choice Health Plans, Elevate Health Plans offered by Denver Health Medical Plans, Kaiser Permanente, and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.

“Can I search for plans based on my doctor?”

Yes. You can look for health plans that include your doctor or medical facility in the provider network.

“How is the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace different from other websites that sell health insurance?”

Many commercial websites sell health insurance. Connect for Health Colorado is the only non-profit marketplace for Coloradans, and is the only place where Coloradans can obtain the new kind of tax credit to reduce the cost of buying insurance.

The new kind of tax credit will generally be available to individuals earning between about $15,000 and $49,000 a year, couples earning between about $20,000 and $65,000 a year, and families of four earning between about $31,000 and $98,000 a year.  If you qualify, you can use those benefits right away. This cost-savings program is for individuals, couples and families who need health insurance, are not eligible for public health coverage such as Medicare and Medicaid, and do not have access to affordable coverage through a large employer.

“How can find out more about how this program and how it meets my specific healthcare coverage needs?”

Contact us at healthcareguide@glbtcolorado.org if you have general questions about your situation or are curious about how healthcare can improve your life. Our Certified Health Coverage Guide will be in touch with you within 1 – 2 business days.  If you are ready to enroll now, please set an appointment with our HCG at: Assistance Network a.k.a. Aunt Bertha.