Colorado saw an unprecedented drop in the number people without health insurance in 2015, but some 353,000 residents still don't have coverage.
Colorado saw an unprecedented drop in the number people without health insurance in 2015, but some 353,000 residents still don't have coverage. The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative talked directly to consumers to find out what's working, and what needs to be improved with the state's enrollment process.
Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement with the group, says cost is still the biggest barrier, and the state can do a better job of explaining available subsidies and tax credits, and penalties for not having coverage.
"There is financial assistance available," says Fox. "It does make a significant difference in how much somebody is paying per month in their premiums. And clearly state what the risks are if somebody doesn't get health coverage."
Fox adds many Coloradans have delayed care or dropped coverage altogether because of high costs. Spanish-speaking Latinos reported their biggest need is access to services after regular business hours, and many Latino residents who opted not to get insurance were confused by the legal status requirements for enrollment.
Fox notes the top questions from people seeking coverage in rural parts of the state were about the cost of the policy, confusing jargon, and trying to figure out which benefits were covered in different plans. He says since health insurance concepts and terms are so complex, especially for first-time buyers, improving public education efforts could help ensure consumers stick with policies once they sign up.
"So that people can understand how their health insurance works," says Fox. "Also how to keep themselves healthy and take advantage of their coverage in the best way possible."
The study also recommends keeping provider lists up to date and available in Spanish, and making sure applicants can reach a person to help navigate the enrollment and benefits process so more Coloradans can access health care when they need it.