Open enrollment deadline is January 15, 2022
Are you among the individuals and families who buy their own health insurance? If you have not yet lined up coverage for 2022, the good news is that you have until January 15 to shop for a plan.
“People who still need to purchase insurance have until January 15 to line up coverage that will be effective February 1. We encourage them to contact Connect for Health Colorado and shop for a plan, or sign up for Medicaid if they qualify,” says Valley Health Alliance Executive Director Chris McDowell.
Connect for Health Colorado is the marketplace exchange for people who are not covered by an employer’s health insurance plan. It is designed to help individuals and families find the right plan for their budget and needs, and determine if they are eligible for a monthly premium reduction under the Affordable Care Act. Connect for Health also helps individuals and families secure Medicaid coverage if they can’t afford to buy insurance.
“The market for health insurance has changed considerably over the last year, with more choices of plans, lower prices, and expanded programs to help people secure healthcare coverage,” says Aspen Valley Hospital CEO Dave Ressler, a board member of the Valley Health Alliance. “It’s important for people to explore all their options.”
Two insurance companies currently sell plans to individuals and families, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. All of their available plans and benefits are explained on the Connect for Health Colorado website. For 2022, Rocky Mountain Health Plans has lowered the monthly premium consumers pay for its plans.
Many more people now qualify for premium reductions under the Affordable Care Act than in previous years due to a change in the law last spring. There is also a program called “Cost Sharing Reductions” that can lower deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for those who qualify. For more information, click here.
Health insurance covers the full cost of an annual wellness check with your primary care provider, and is designed to lower costs associated with regular care. It also provides a safety net by limiting financial exposure for people who have major health issues or an unexpected accident.
“If you get very sick or have an accident, you don’t want to get caught without any type of coverage,” says McDowell. “At the Valley Health Alliance, we strongly encourage people to engage proactively with the healthcare system, and having insurance makes it easier to do so.”
The Valley Health Alliance is a collaboration between employers and healthcare providers working to create a local system that improves outcomes and lowers the cost of care. A key part of its work has been to connect people with a primary care physician and encourage regular visits. Having a primary care physician has been shown to help patients get the right care at the right time in the right place, which lowers costs.
It also played an instrumental role in bringing increased competition to local health insurance markets, which for several years offered limited choices from one insurance company. Now there are two insurers serving both the individual and small group markets between Aspen and Parachute, creating more price and plan options for individuals and small businesses that purchase insurance for their employees.
The Hospital is a founding member of the Valley Health Alliance, which was formed in 2014. Other members include the Aspen Skiing Co., City of Aspen, Pitkin County, Valley View Hospital, Mountain Family Health Centers, Grand River Health Centers and the five Chambers of Commerce from Aspen to Parachute.
“It really is a unique partnership that brings three hospitals and our primary care practices between Aspen and Parachute together with employers and five Chambers of Commerce to make healthcare more accessible, effective and affordable for our entire community,” Ressler says. “That includes health insurance, so please look for a plan if you don’t have one.”