Connect for Health Colorado reports plan selection totals 

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More than 165,000 Coloradans selected health care coverage for 2018 through the state health insurance marketplace by the close of Open Enrollment, according to new data released this week by Connect for Health Colorado.

That number is down from the approximately 175,000 Coloradans who selected health care coverage through the marketplace in 2017.

Among the 2018 plan selections, 23 percent are new to Connect for Health Colorado and 77 percent are renewing customers.

Luke Clarke, director of communications for Connect for Health Colorado, said the percentage of new customers is on par with previous years.

“These are positive results that show us holding steady and in line with our targets for the year,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson in a news release. “Despite the uncertainty that created some confusion in the market, we have seen volumes that nearly match last year’s longer Open Enrollment Period. I am happy to see so many families and individuals put this protection for their health and financial well-being in place for the year. We will be reporting our results in coming weeks in our annual End of Open Enrollment Report.”

That “uncertainty” included whether or not President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would come to fruition. Thus far, the president has not been able to garner the necessary support of Congress, and Clarke said the future of health insurance still is not clear.

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“I would say … there is still considerable debate on health care policy and a fair amount of uncertainty,” Clarke said. “I think we are seeing increased awareness of the value of insurance. It protects you from the leading cause of personal bankruptcy and is a crucial part of maintaining good health.”

This year’s Open Enrollment Period was 22 days shorter than last year’s — which had been extended three days past the original deadline to accommodate last-minute sign-ups. The next Open Enrollment Period will begin Nov. 1.

“By the close of this year’s Open Enrollment, Coloradans had selected 165,777 medical insurance plans, an increase of 3 percent over the 160,968 medical plan selections for same date in 2017,” according to the release. “When the last Open Enrollment Period closed on Feb. 3, 2017, the number of plan selections had reached 172,361.”

Enrollments remain open through March 1 to anyone whose 2017 health plan was not offered for 2018. Coloradans who experience a qualifying life change event — marriage, divorce, having a child, losing their employer-sponsored insurance or those moving into Colorado — have 60 days from that event to enroll in 2018 coverage. For more information, visit connectforhealthco.com.