Your (very) last-minute guide to buying health insurance in Colorado

If you buy your own health insurance, or you own a small business and are trying to choose a health plan for your employees, you have little time to get coverage for next year.

The deadline to select a plan that will take effect on January 1st is Friday, December 15th. (Open enrollment runs until January 15, but plans purchased after Friday won’t begin until February.) If you’re in the throes of insurance indecision, don’t worry, because we at The Sun have you covered Help was provided.

Last week, we held a panel discussion with three health insurance experts to help you choose the plan that’s right for you.

You can watch the entire event here:

But if you’re just looking for highlights, here are some highlights.

You’d better shop around

It can be very tempting to buy the first plan that comes up in search results. But this may not be the best option.

If you have a doctor that’s important to you, you want to make sure they’re in the network of the plan you want to choose, said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway. You also want to make sure that, if you have any prescriptions, they are covered by the plan you want to choose.

The core point, folks, is to go shopping, Conway added. The federal government and the state of Colorado offer you substantial assistance to help you afford your health insurance premiums. With some shopping, you may be able to find a cheaper plan in the same metal grade as this year.

claim what you are owed

Speaking of financial aid, it’s always a good idea to check that you’re getting all the aid you can get. Colorado has introduced new state-funded subsidies to help low-income individuals and families cover out-of-pocket costs. And if you haven’t enrolled in a few years, you may find yourself eligible for the expanded federal subsidies first launched during the pandemic.

Kevin Patterson, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado, the state insurance exchange, said it doesn’t hurt to check. This is the most stubborn data point I’ve ever seen. Everybody’s like, oh, I’m making too much money for this. I said, what about you?

Conway said if they had just renewed the same plan for multiple years, they might actually be eligible for the subsidy that was just put on hold.

The only place you can apply for assistance is through the Connect for Health Colorado website. Use the quick cost and program finder to see if you qualify for aid and see what programs are available in your area.

See the entire coverage cost

The vast majority of people who buy health insurance choose the cheapest premium. This is not the best way to do things.

The reason is that plans with lower premiums are more expensive and have higher deductibles when you actually have to use them.

Patterson said it’s a bit like saying you own a car, but you only make monthly payments and you don’t have to change the oil or put in new tires or fill up the tank. The total cost of ownership also includes other expenses. I think you do have to think about health insurance in a very similar way.

So when shopping for insurance, consider not only your monthly budget, but also how likely you are to use the policy and how much you can spend out of pocket at any given time. This will help you make a more informed decision, saving you money in the long run.

Be honest about your needs

OK, how do you estimate your health care needs, especially if you don’t have an ongoing medical condition or planned surgery? You have to think like an actuary and make honest predictions about the unexpected.

“I’m looking at their family composition, and if they have young children, I would just say right now, they’re accident-prone,” said Meagan Fearing, a health insurance broker and former president of NABIP Brokerage Group in Colorado. ” In addition, I also want to ask how many times have you been sick this year? How many times have you left work? Is there something that’s been bothering you?

Look at medical spending from previous years and use their averages as a baseline. Then the math starts: Does a lower premium for 12 months make sense if it means you pay most of your annual medical expenses out of pocket before you hit your deductible? Or, if you can meet your deductible early, could you save money by paying more in premiums each month?

Know when you need assistance

Even in those final hours, health insurance brokers and Connect for Health assistants can help you navigate the system and make the best choice. Even better, they’re free to you, and once you’ve chosen your coverage, the broker can also help you make sure you’re getting the most from your plan.

Connect for Health has broker finding tools and scheduling tools to get assistance at certified assistance centers.

Fehling says an agent can really help you navigate the process.

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