Starting in 2014, as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance coverage for individuals and small businesses will become available through new state health insurance exchanges. Colorado has opted to provide a state-based exchange. The exchange will open in October 2013 (for coverage starting in January 2014) under the name Connect for Health Colorado.
What is the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange?
According to Colorado Health Benefit Exchange website (www.getcoveredco.org), the Exchange will be a new marketplace where Coloradans can shop for and buy health insurance based on quality and price. The Exchange is run as a non-profit public organization operating outside of state government.
How was the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Formed?
During the summer of 2010, stakeholders came together to talk about how to create a successful insurance exchange in Colorado. The Governor’s Office obtained a planning grant in late 2010 from the federal government to fund the initial efforts to create a state health insurance exchange. In May 2011, the Colorado General Assembly passed Senate Bill 11-200, which establishes the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange (COHBE), a public entity governed by a Board of Directors. SB 11-200 also created a legislative implementation review committee to guide the development of the Exchange. According to the Exchange website, State leaders decided that a state-based marketplace would be best for Coloradans, rather than sending Coloradans to a federal exchange.
What will the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Look Like and How Will it Work?
The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, soon to be called Connect for Health Colorado, will be an online marketplace where Coloradans can shop for and purchase health plans. This website will interface with various government databases to determine eligibility for tax credits and public insurance.
Individuals and families will be able to compare plans and sign up for health insurance. Phone and in person support will be available to help consumers understand the plans and how to enroll.
Small employers will be able to purchase plans for their employees, using tax credits.
How is the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange Funded?
The United States Congress designated funding for states to build exchanges. The operating costs of the Exchange are expected to be funded primarily by the federal government through 2014. By 2015, exchanges need to produce enough revenue to pay for its operations. According to the Exchange website, no Colorado tax dollars are allocated to operate the Exchange.
Sources: www.getcoveredco.org and KFF Healthcare Reform State Exchange Profiles, Colorado (March 26, 2013)