Coloradans fear the cost of medical care more than they fear getting sick or injured, a study by Colorado HealthOP reported in April.
The report surveyed 625 Coloradans about their health-care experiences and beliefs. Fifty-four percent have not gone to the doctor because of cost, and 45 percent have not purchased a medicine prescribed by a doctor.
“Teaching people how to use their health insurance and how it can save them money will help ease that fear of medical cost,” says Laura Morsch-Babu, Colorado HealthOP director of public and community affairs.
Colorado HealthOP is a nonprofit health insurance cooperative and one of the providers offered through the Colorado health exchange (where open enrollment ended April 15). More than 15,000 people signed up for the co-op. When a person buys a plan through the co-op, he or she becomes a member and votes for the board of directors that decides rates, benefits and more.
Following Kaiser Permanente, Colorado HealthOP had the lowest rates offered on the exchange. Morsch-Babu suspects the lower rates attracted the younger population—47 percent of co-op members are 35 and younger. She also suspects many may have signed up without understanding the co-op concept. She emphasizes that a co-op is a community with both benefits and responsibilities.
Connect for Health Colorado—the state health exchange website—will continue education and outreach as well. “Our goal has always been to connect as many Coloradans as possible with health coverage that meets their needs, and tax credits to reduce costs,” Patty Fontneau, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado, said in an April press release.
The exchange offered 150 health plans for families and individuals from 10 providers, and 92 plans for small businesses through six providers.
Connect for Health Colorado announced more than 124,000 Coloradans signed up through the exchange, exceeding the goal of 92,000. Enrollment started slow but spiked before the January and March deadlines with 30,000 visitors on Dec. 23 and 54,000 visitors on March 31.
“Turns out people are very deadline-driven when it comes to buying health insurance,” Laura Morsch-Babu said. Charles Holum, one of the co-op’s founders, described October to December as a “scary and annoying time.” By January he said they were pleased. “We’re very excited. There’s more buzz of being a co-op and we got more sign-ups than we expected.”
Connect for Health Colorado is still available to answer heath care questions. Those who have had a life-changing event like a birth or death that may affect insurance eligibility should call 1.855.752.6749. The next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, 2014, for coverage in 2015.