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Monday Medical: Enrollment underway

For more

What: Open Enrollment Tuesdays

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays from Nov. 18 to Feb. 10

Where: Yampa Valley Medical Center

Details: You should bring:

• Your own laptop, as YVMC's are limited

• Household income estimate for 2015

• Identification and/or Social Security number for each family member

• Current insurance policy information

Contact: Call Helen Brown (A-L) at 970-870-1137 or Anna Scheffers (M-Z) at 970-871-2570, or visit http://www.connectforhealthco.com

Are you one of the 150,000-plus individuals or businesses who used Connect for Health Colorado for health insurance in our state last year? Well, it’s that time of year again. The state health insurance marketplace opened for business Saturday.

There have been a few changes since the last open enrollment period, including regional boundaries, pricing of plans and a shorter enrollment period.

For more

What: Open Enrollment Tuesdays



When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays from Nov. 18 to Feb. 10

Where: Yampa Valley Medical Center



Details: You should bring:

• Your own laptop, as YVMC’s are limited

• Household income estimate for 2015

• Identification and/or Social Security number for each family member

• Current insurance policy information

Contact: Call Helen Brown (A-L) at 970-870-1137 or Anna Scheffers (M-Z) at 970-871-2570, or visit http://www.connectforhealthco.com

Residents of Routt, Moffat, Grand and Jackson counties now have merged with the entire Western Slope, excluding Mesa County, into a single region, or rating area. This new region includes the higher rating areas of Summit and Pitkin counties. This grouping has caused changes to the pricing of local insurance. The intent was to spread out costs and reduce premiums for all of Western Colorado, but some actually will see increases in the price of their current plans. A few local residents have been surprised to find that their current premium has increased by upward of 30 percent. For many, this means that a once-affordable plan is not so anymore.

Helen Brown is one of two financial counselors at Yampa Valley Medical Center who are certified health coverage guides. Brown said she is receiving phone calls from clients citing hospital pricing for the increase in insurance premiums.

Robert Flake, chief financial officer at YVMC, explained that this is not the case.

“Increases in health insurance premiums far outpace those of hospital pricing,” he said.

He went on to explain the changes he has seen at YVMC in relation to the marketplace.

“There has not been a significant increase in the volume of patients, but we have seen increased insurance coverage among our patients,” Flake said. “This additional coverage, whether private- or government-based, has helped to reduce the number of patients who can’t pay for services.”

Brown recommends shopping around when looking for plans to keep costs low and find the plan with the best coverage for you and your family.

“Additional plans have been added that offer the same benefits with similar cost to last year but the tradeoff may be a more limited network of providers,” Brown said. “It’s important to review all of the options available.”

Additionally, Coloradans have just half the time to shop around and get enrolled compared to last year, and if you want your insurance to take effect by Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15. Renewals and changes to current plans also are due by this date.

“Enrollment can be done from home,” Brown said, “but it can be complicated. Health coverage guides are a resource to make the process easier.”

For those who would like to go it alone, the good news is that Connect for Health Colorado has streamlined the online enrollment process. For those who’d like a little help navigating the marketplace, there are Open Enrollment Tuesdays here in Steamboat Springs.

Open Enrollment Tuesdays are free help sessions being offered by Yampa Valley Medical Center and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association every week beginning Nov. 18 until the open enrollment period closes Feb. 15.

Open Enrollment Tuesdays will be staffed by certified health coverage guides and licensed insurance brokers.

These free weekly sessions will take a straightforward approach to navigating Connect for Health and Colorado State Medicaid. A few of the sessions are offered on other days besides Tuesday, so check YVMC’s website for details. They are for anyone who needs insurance, has questions about insurance or would like to renew their current plan. Similar sessions were held last year helping many individuals and families get the best plans for their situation.

Brown’s goal for the sessions is simple: “I want to provide access to care for our community. Access to health care can change a life.”

Heather Rose is the marketing and communications manager for Yampa Valley Medical Center.


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