Did you forget that open enrollment is just around the corner? Between the global pandemic and the national election, it may be easy for us to forget about open enrollment season. Open enrollment for Medicare is October 15-December 7, 2020. The open enrollment period for individual, family, and some employer-based insurance options starts is November 1-January 15, 2021. Please note that in order to receive insurance coverage by January 1, 2021, consumers will need to have completed the enrollment process by December 15, 2020 otherwise they will have coverage effective February 1, 2021.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2012 and its enactment in 2013 brought about great change for many who were previously under- or uninsured around the country. Prior to the implementation of Colorado’s state-based healthcare exchange in 2013, 14.1 percent of consumers were uninsured, however, by 2019, only 6.5 percent of Coloradans were uninsured.
While Colorado has made significant improvements in coverage, it is essential for individuals to pick the right plan for their personal situation during open enrollment season. Don’t assume if you re-enroll that last year’s plan is identical in benefits to this year’s plan. People living with a chronic disease, and their caregivers, know how essential continuous coverage can be for one’s health, well-being, and finances.
Unfortunately, there may be some hidden elements of a health insurance plan which could present barriers to accessing dependable and affordable care. The Chronic Care Collaborative encourages all Coloradans to be mindful of insurance plan designs that include coinsurance, step therapy or copay accumulator programs. As you compare plans, keep an eye out for plan design language could lead to challenges in accessing or affording treatment options, specialty providers, or a new healthcare setting.
There are many resources available to consumers to help you make the most informed decision before enrolling in a plan. The Colorado Gerontological Society is offering free virtual Medicare workshops during Medicare’s open enrollment. Connect for Health Colorado has a consumer-friendly Plan Finder Tool to help sort through plans offered on Colorado’s health insurance marketplace. You can also talk to your HR staff, if your insurance is sponsored by your employer, or a health navigator can help you identify the right plan for your health needs and avoid plans with particular barriers to care. Regardless of where you get your insurance, here is a helpful checklist for people living with chronic conditions and their caregivers.
Connect for Health Colorado suggests that you track down the following information prior to filling out your application:
- Names and dates of birth for each person in your household;
- Home mailing addresses for all those included on your tax return;
- Social security numbers;
- Immigration document information;
- For federal income tax filers, you will need list those you claim as a dependent;
- Employer and income information for everyone in your household.
Take note for next year! During the 2020 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers approved HB20-1236 allowing for the development of the Affordable Health Care Coverage Easy Enrollment Program poised to launch in 2022. This new program will streamline the enrollment process and will assist consumers in determining their eligibility after filing their tax return making the process easier for consumers.