Thousands sign up in 1st 8 days of Colorado open enrollment | CraigDailyPress.com

Thousands sign up in 1st 8 days of Colorado open enrollment

Thousands more Coloradans signed up for health insurance during the first week of open enrollment than during the same time frame last year, according to a report from the state.

Connect for Health Colorado reported Monday that 6,144 residents across the state enrolled in a plan during the first eight days of open enrollment, up from just 204 during the first eight days of open enrollment in 2013.

The state also counted 936 enrollments in dental plans, up from just 87 during the same period in 2013.

"We hope to have that available in the next few weeks," said Curtis Hubbard, a Connect for Health Colorado spokesperson.

This year's open enrollment period began Nov. 15 and runs for three months, half the time that people had to sign up last year.

For those wanting to avoid a gap in insurance, enrollment must be completed by Dec. 15 and paid by Dec. 25 in order for coverage to continue Jan. 1.

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Despite the state's report of increased enrollment, insurance agent Shauntrel Ormsbee said it's been difficult signing people up.

"It's a lot of chaos," said Ormsbee, who works for Mountain West Insurance, which has offices throughout Western Colorado including in Steamboat Springs and Craig.

Ormsbee said she hasn't necessarily noticed more people signing up than last year but said difficulty with the online exchange has led to more people contacting her office.

There's only a small window of time for those wanting to avoid any lapse in coverage to enroll, Ormsbee said.

"People are needing calendar year coverage, so really, they only have a month," she said.

Insurance broker Paul Van Engelenhoven said he finds the exchange easier to navigate than the federal website.

"I've had a couple phone calls, but nothing earth-shattering. But it's pretty early yet," said Van Engelenhoven, who's listed as an available broker on the Connect for Health Colorado website.

Locally, guides are available through the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurses Association.

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