Nearly 140,000 Coloradans are now enrolled in health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s online marketplace, following the second open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.
Open Enrollment No. 2, which started November 15 and ended February 15, was a bit of a rollercoaster in Colorado.
Coloradans had more plans to choose from in 2015 compared to 2014. Average statewide plan prices rose only slightly, although there were wide regional variations. And computer upgrades smoothed the interface between Medicaid and the insurance marketplace for many customers, allowing them to complete one application rather than two to determine their eligibility.
But while the system worked for some applicants, it was more problematic for others. A software glitch caused 3,600 people to lose their coverage when they comparison shopped. Connect for Health Colorado contacted all of them, and most had been able to obtain coverage by the time they were reached.
While the Round Two enrollment doesn’t yet meet projections, enrollment will remain open for the rest of the year for those who experience a life-changing event such as starting a new job, getting a divorce or having a baby.
Last year, Connect for Health Colorado saw 4,000 people enroll each month outside of the open enrollment period. If the same pattern holds true, an additional 40,000 people would enroll by the end of 2015, making the bottom line number closer to 180,000. That’s slightly lower than the marketplace’s mid-level projection of 194,277 for 2015 but above the low-end projection of 168,777. The high-end projection was for 242,777 enrollees.
Robust enrollment is crucial for the marketplace, which must be financially self-sustaining beginning in 2015 without additional federal or state funding. Connect for Health Colorado’s revenue comes from insurance carriers, who are assessed a fee of 1.4 percent on policies sold through the marketplace. Carriers pay an additional $1.25 per member per month fee for policies sold on and off the exchange.
While Connect for Health Colorado has been proud of holding the fees down, it does have the ability to raise them.
As for the new enrollment, roughly 95,000 of the 140,000 or so marketplace customers came from people who renewed policies they bought during the first open enrollment period. The remaining 45,000 were new customers.
A bit more than half– 54 percent – qualified for financial assistance in the form of a tax subsidy. The average subsidy was $229 per month.
Several southwest Colorado counties are reporting high percentages of residents who enrolled in plans through the marketplace. Almost nine percent of San Miguel County’s population and 8.5 percent of San Juan County residents enrolled in coverage through Connect for Health Colorado. In contrast, one percent of the residents of Crowley and Bent counties enrolled through the marketplace.
Find the number of people in your county who enrolled in insurance through the marketplace here.
Colorado’s newest health insurance carrier, the Colorado HealthOP, signed up 40 percent of the health exchange enrollees, followed by Kaiser Permanente of Colorado at 35 percent, according to Katie Kerwin McCrimmon in Health News Colorado.