Health insurance enrollment rises as deadline approaches | CraigDailyPress.com

Health insurance enrollment rises as deadline approaches

— Nearly twice the number of Routt and Moffat County residents have signed up for health insurance through the state marketplace for 2015 as did during open enrollment last year, according to statistics through Jan. 31.

The deadline to enroll for 2015 coverage is Sunday.

More than 1,400 Routt County residents and 192 Moffatt County residents have signed up since Nov. 15, compared with 761 people in Routt and 109 in Moffatt who signed up between Oct. 1, 2013, and Jan. 31, 2014.

"We've had a lot of new customers who maybe didn't know that they qualified for tax benefits before and have heard from their friends and neighbors," said Erin Gleason, community and small business health insurance coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. "Other customers have transferred plans and found a better deal."

The VNA has been offering help sessions over the past several months and can provide last-minute sign-up help if needed.

The VNA will hold help sessions from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Yampa Valley Medical Center, and again from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the VNA.

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Residents also can enroll online at the Connect for Health Colorado site through Sunday.

Private insurance is available through the state exchange for individuals and families, employers with up to 50 employees and those who don't have access to affordable coverage through an employer. Premium tax credits to reduce monthly premiums are available for those who aren't eligible for Medicaid.

Those who enroll by Feb. 15 will have coverage that begins March 1. Those who don’t enroll could face a penalty. After the deadline, only those residents who experience a life-changing event, including losing a job, moving to Colorado or getting divorced, will be eligible for new enrollment.

"People won't have access to private individual health insurance anymore," Gleason said.

Gleason said it’s important for people to at least create an account on the exchange and begin applying before Sunday. They can finish the application shortly after the deadline and still qualify for coverage, Gleason added.

Statewide, through the end of January, more than 125,000 people have enrolled in private coverage, another 58,000 in Medicaid and nearly 3,000 in CHP+. More than 21,000 also have enrolled in dental plans through the exchange.

Colorado has the third highest state-based marketplace enrollment for 2015 coverage, behind California and New York.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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