Are you ready for the Affordable Care Act? | PostIndependent.com

Are you ready for the Affordable Care Act?

Sharon Sullivan
ssullivan@gjfreepress.com

GO&DO

WHAT: “Nuts and Bolts of Healthcare Reform”

WHEN & WHERE:

Tues., Aug. 20, 6-7:30 p.m., Grand Junction High School

Wed., Aug. 21, 6-7:30 p.m., Fruita Monument High School

Thurs., Aug. 22, 6-7:30 p.m., Palisade High School

(Q&A session from 7:30-8 p.m.)

INFO: ConnectforHealthCO.com

If you’re wondering what you’re supposed to do before health care reform takes effect Jan. 1, representatives from Connect for Health Colorado will be in the Grand Valley next week to show you.

Meetings will be held in Fruita, Grand Junction and Palisade Aug. 20-22 to give a presentation and answer questions regarding the new Affordable Care Act insurance exchange website, which is up and ready to peruse at ConnectforHealthCO.com. Consumers will be able to choose and purchase insurance starting Oct. 1. Health care reform takes effect Jan. 1.

In addition to being able to browse and compare benefits and prices, consumers can see if they qualify and apply for financial assistance to help pay for the health insurance.

For those who don’t own a computer or don’t understand how to use it, Hilltop — a local, nonprofit organization — will help people navigate the process.

“We’re building a marketplace where private insurance companies can place their products and consumers can compare side-by-side costs and plans,” said Linda Gann, Connect for Health Colorado West Slope coordinator.

The insurance-exchange program is for individuals, families and small businesses that do not already have health insurance, qualify for Medicaid or have access to employer-provided health care. Insurance will no longer be denied to people with pre-existing conditions.

The exchange will also be available for people with employer-based health care that is deemed unaffordable (9.5 percent of salary), Gann said.

“This is a Colorado solution to a national concern with escalating health-care costs,” Gann said. “The highest majority of bankruptcies in the state are due to medical costs.”

After the Affordable Care Act passed, states were given the option of adopting a federally-constructed exchange, or, states could apply for federal funding and design their own insurance exchange program.

Colorado was among 17 states that chose to develop its own insurance exchange, each one differing from one another as well as from the federal exchange program, Gann said.

“Colorado will be one of the best places to shop,” Grand Junction volunteer Scott Beilfuss said.

For example, Mississippi offers two insurers from which to choose, while Colorado will have at least 10 insurers and many different policies for people to compare, he said.

“So consumers are going to have a lot of choices. Families should be able to find something that fits,” Beilfuss said.

The Department of Regulatory Agencies is responsible for licensing insurers and will ensure companies comply with Affordable Care Act policy.

“Colorado’s exchange is well-deigned, led by a great staff in Denver,” Gann said.

Steve ErkenBrack, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Plans in Grand Junction, is on the board of directors of Connect for Health Colorado.

The upcoming “Nuts and Bolts of Healthcare Reform” meetings will include Dr. Michael Pramenko, independent insurance brokers trained for the health-care exchange plans, mental health experts from Colorado West Mental Health, and representatives from Connect for Health Colorado and Hilltop. Informational handouts will be available.

Panel members will explain who is eligible for health care tax rebates, when they’re available, and how the rebates make insurance more affordable for Mesa County residents.


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