Consumer Advisory: Open Enrollment for individual health insurance starts Nov. 1

Take time to understand your options.

DENVER (Nov. 1, 2018) – With the 2019 Open Enrollment for individual health insurance beginning on November 1, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), reminds Colorado consumers to be vigilant regarding any health coverage options that are less than what they seem.

Alternatives to standard health insurance, such as short-term plans and healthcare sharing arrangements, have limitations that consumers need to understand when they are shopping. Coloradans who are considering or ultimately enroll in such alternatives must be aware that these options do not offer full health coverage.

“My goal is for people to make their health coverage decisions with their eyes wide open,” said Interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway. “There is a reason that these alternatives are cheaper. They cover less and consumers may not see the savings they expect as they pay more out of their own pockets.

“Because marketing around these alternatives is likely to increase, I’m concerned that consumers will be lured by perceived lower costs,” he added. “But these alternatives are not full insurance plans. In the end, consumers could be surprised by the amount they actually pay for their care. It is possible, and even likely, that these alternatives will not cover important things like pre-existing conditions, and in fact, may even charge more if you’ve been sick in the past.”

Commissioner Conway encourages people to be cautious and take the time to scrutinize their health coverage options. Find out how your particular health needs will be covered, determine what costs you will be responsible for and ask questions about prescriptions and doctors.

If you or a family member need help determining what kind of questions to ask, or you just want some assistance decoding the language of a health plan, contact the Division of Insurance Consumer Services: 303-894-7490 / 800-930-3745 / DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.

If you are being pressured to buy an alternative product that you do not feel is right for you, or you are being told that it is comparable to ACA coverage, please let the Division know.

Open enrollment for individual coverage (not from an employer) runs from Nov. 1, 2018 - Jan. 15, 2019. However, people who want coverage to start on Jan. 1, 2019 must enroll by Dec. 15, 2018. Enrolling from Dec. 16, 2018 – Jan. 15, 2019 will mean that coverage will start on Feb. 1, 2019.

Colorado individual health insurance consumers can enroll through the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, or through an insurance agent or directly with an insurance company selling individual coverage. However, using Connect for Health Colorado is the only way to access tax credits and cost-sharing reductions that can bring down the cost of health insurance. 

Earlier this month, the DOI reported that the news for  the individual market in 2019 is largely positive, with an overall average increase in premiums of only 5.6%. Many Coloradans can realize lower premiums in the individual market, and in some cases pay even lower rates than what they paid in 2018.  Additionally, consumers can expect the return of the same seven insurance companies for 2019 that sold individual plans for 2018.

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The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues.  Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745

DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675


Media Contact:
Vincent Plymell
Division of Insurance
vincent.plymell@state.co.us 
p: 303-894-2261 | c: 303-910-9614