Special health insurance enrollment period aims to help those who’ve lost their job or seen reduced income | SummitDaily.com

Special health insurance enrollment period aims to help those who’ve lost their job or seen reduced income

The sign at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco on March 17.
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

DILLON — The state’s Division of Insurance has created a special enrollment period for individuals to sign up for health insurance or update their income information. Those who have reduced wages could qualify for tax credits that would lower their insurance premiums.

The enrollment period, which applies to all Connect for Health Colorado plans, is open through April 3, and the start date for new plans is April 1.

“We want people to know that if their income has changed, they should log into their account, and they should report that income change,” said Kelly McGann, Access to Care program manager at the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. “We can help with that with a virtual appointment.”

Family & Intercultural Resource Center Executive Director Brianne Snow said people should take advantage of the ability to report an income change on their insurance — something that is not typically an option once regular open enrollment closes, usually in January. Snow said the special enrollment period allows people who have had changes to their hours and subsequent decreases in wages to have these changes reflected in their health insurance premiums. 

Those who have questions, or need help making changes to their plan or comparing insurance options can schedule a virtual appointment with the resource center by calling 970-262-3888 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The nonprofit also has funding to help people with medications and medical equipment.

“I think insurance is very important always but now more than ever,” McGann said. “There’s uncertainty with our health.”

Snow also encouraged people who have worked with an insurance broker in the past to contact that broker for help.

As workers across the county lose their jobs, Snow said the center is seeing increased demand for Medicaid, which can be used in the case of lost employer insurance.

Peak Health Alliance, a nonprofit health insurance purchasing cooperative that serves Summit County, also is participating in the special enrollment period. Peak Health Alliance CEO Tamara Pogue encouraged people to explore their options to hopefully find affordable coverage.

“Certainly in this very uncertain time, from a health perspective this is not the time that we would want folks to be uninsured,” Pogue said.

Even without an economic downturn, mountain regions in Colorado have the highest rates of uninsured residents. On average, 14.3% of Interstate 70 mountain corridor residents are uninsured compared with the state uninsured rate of 6.5%, according to the Colorado Health Institute.

While many Summit County residents continue to use private insurance provided by their employer, some will see their employer-offered insurance plans expire in the coming months. For example, Vail Resorts seasonal employee insurance plans will expire at the end of April. The special open enrollment period can be used for people who don’t have insurance, recently lost their coverage or will lose their coverage soon.

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