On October 1, 2013 Connect for Health Colorado (“C4HCO”), Colorado’s health insurance Marketplace, opened for business. The Marketplace is a new way for individuals and families to compare new health plans and to enroll in a plan. In the new Marketplace, for the first time ever in America, your previous or current health conditions are immaterial– the plans are available to everyone! The Marketplace is central to making sure that everyone has access to health insurance.
Where did the idea for a Marketplace arise? Colorado began discussing the concept for a marketplace long before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, as leaders in Colorado recognized the problems of the rising health care costs and the growing number of uninsured residents.
In 2006, Colorado’s Republican governor and Democratic legislature formed a bi-partisan “Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform” to examine options to make affordable health coverage available to all Colorado residents. The Commission was originally comprised of 24 individuals, half appointed by Republicans and half by Democrats, representing a broad spectrum of Coloradans. The Commission paid special attention to affordability and the uninsured, especially those at risk of financial ruin due to serious health conditions and high medical expenses. In early 2008, the Commission published their recommendations to provide a “roadmap to health reform.” One of the key recommendations was to establish a “Connector” where people could shop and compare health insurance options. Learn more about Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations.
Many of the general principles of the Blue Ribbon Commission (to reduce the number of uninsured, to encourage personal responsibility, and to enhance consumer choice) were similar to the goals of the ACA, and the proposed solutions were similar as well. Colorado was at the forefront of health care reform, even before it was in the national spotlight.
In 2010, the ACA became the law of the land, and required that a Marketplace (a.k.a. Exchange) operate in every state by 2014. Each state could decide whether it would design and operate its Marketplace or default to allow the federal government to establish and operate the state’s Marketplace through the Department of Health & Human Services in Washington, DC. After obtaining input from residents throughout Colorado, in 2011 our state legislature carefully considered the options.
Once again a bi-partisan group of legislators determined that Colorado should develop its own, unique Marketplace – one that would be designed specifically to meet the needs of Coloradans – based on the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendation for a “Connector”. The first witnesses before the legislature to support the concept were two of the leaders of the Blue Ribbon Commission. The legislation in Colorado was supported by consumer groups, doctors, hospitals, brokers, health insurance carriers, and chambers of commerce throughout the state. So, you can call it a Connector, an Exchange, or a Marketplace, but its official title in Colorado is: Connect for Health Colorado (C4HCO). Whatever the label, the new C4HCO Marketplace is a genuine made-in-Colorado solution!
For more information Blue Ribbon Commission, see Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Reform, Recommendations for Health Reform in Colorado, January 2008.
For more information on Health Care Reform in general, see RMHP’s Health Care Reform Site.
In the coming weeks, as Coloradans begin shopping for 2014 health care coverage on Connect for Health Colorado’s website or with their broker, Steve ErkenBrack, CEO of RMHP and the only insurance carrier on the Board of Directors of Connect for Health Colorado will address two other topics on the Exchange: Common misperceptions and What is the future?