During the Nov. 1-Jan. 12 open enrollment period for individual health insurance, 189 residents from Chaffee, Lake, Saguache, Fremont and Gunnison counties signed up for a plan through Connect for Health with the help of Michelle Nay, certified assistance site supervisor. 

Nay said she didn’t know what to expect this year in regard to enrollment numbers due to everything going on in Congress, but she doubled the number of people enrolled this year compared to last year.

“Connect for Health reported more than 158,000 medical plan selections in Colorado during this open enrollment period, a little ahead of where we were on the same date last year,” Nay said.

She said the enrollment process went smoothly despite a few difficulties.

“I didn’t have many complaints, and several individuals and families were happy with the new plans offered by Friday Health Plans. If individual and families didn’t have changes to report, they were able to re-enroll in a plan with a click of a button,” she said.

“Out of every five appointments, there were three tickets I had to call to resolve. The website isn’t always user-friendly, and there were times I would have glitches in the application process with updating or reporting income. However, I was assigned a Connect for Health IT representative who was awesome to work with and corrected any problems that arose in the application.”

Nay said she had a few individuals and families who were not eligible for the tax credit, and the Connect for Health marketplace insurance was not affordable for them.

“Some chose to go without health insurance, unfortunately,” she said.

She said the greatest success of the process was finding the new plans for 2018 were saving some clients money because the advance premium tax credit was increased due to the increase of insurance premiums.

Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee County public health director, commented on Nay’s work and dedication during the open enrollment period:

“Because of Michelle’s dedication and determination toward ensuring that as many Chaffee and Lake County adults and families got enrolled in health insurance during open enrollment, her peers at the state level have commented that she is one of the most productive health insurance coverage guides in Colorado. We are very fortunate that someone with Michelle’s insight and perseverance is in this very important role in our community.”

For those who missed open enrollment, Nay said an individual needs to experience one of the following qualifying life-change events, which may qualify him/her for a special enrollment period.

• Loss of employer-sponsored coverage.

• Change in affordability of employer-sponsored insurance.

• Birth of a baby, adoption of a child or placement of a child for foster care.

• Change in marital status.

• Move to a new permanent address in your state.

• Changes in income that affect financial assistance.

• Change of tribal status.

• Becoming a U.S. citizen.

• Leaving incarceration.

• Change of dependency status of someone on your plan.

• Death of a covered member within your household.

• Turning 26 and aging off your parent’s plan.

• Starting/ending AmeriCorps service.

• Incorrectly or inappropriately enrolled in a health plan due to an error or omission on the part of Connect for Health or someone working in an official capacity to help you enroll.

• Violation of the contract you had with your health insurance carrier.

• Loss of an exemption to purchase health insurance coverage.

• Loss of minimum essential coverage.

Nay said, “In addition, if your 2017 plan was not offered for 2018 and you did not enroll before Jan. 12, you may qualify for special enrollment until March 1.”

She said Friday Health Plans bought out Colorado Choice Health Plans and did not carry over the 2017 plans into 2018.

“Never assume your plan is going to auto renew,” she said.

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