Colorado Health Insurance Exchange debuts Tuesday

By: Zach Berridge Email
By: Zach Berridge Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) The Colorado Health Insurance Exchange, a part of the Affordable Care Act, becomes available for enrollment October 1st and will go into effect on New Year's Day, but there is still confusion about what it all means.

KKCO 11 News spoke with Steve Erkenbrack, CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, and expert on the topic.

Essentially, it offers a website for people to see what insurance plans they qualify for, as well as compare them with other plans to find the one that suits their needs best.

"The biggest change here is that everyone who wants to be covered, gets to be covered," Erkenbrack said. "We've never had that happen in this country before. You always had to pass underwriting before, or get covered through an employer. Now what we're saying is for people who have lost their job or the employer's policy doesn't fit for them, they'll have the chance to go to the exchange and get covered."

Colorado's system creates a competitive market place for insurance buyers.

With the website's price comparing tools, insurance providers are motivated to compete with one another, which leads to them lowering their prices.

In the end, it's designed to help everyone.

"In the end, who does it help or hurt? And the answer is: if you get everybody covered, it helps everybody," Erkenbrack said. "People who are uninsured, that just means they can't go into a primary care physician's office unless they pay for it out of pocket. If they get sick, they still go to the hospital, they still get treated, they can't afford to pay the bill. So the hospital has to pay all the rest of us more. How much more? 30% more."

So theoretically, if everyone were covered, that means insurance rates would drop 30%.

Erkenbrack stressed that the goal of this is to get everyone covered and to make it affordable, and that it's a marathon and not a sprint.

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