The Consumer Engagement Project is a coalition of four Colorado organizations that advocate for affordable, high quality health insurance for all Coloradans. The organizations include the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Adelante con la Salud, the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, and CCLP. Project partners developed and administered a survey to gather consumer feedback regarding the experience for consumers enrolling in coverage through Connect for Health Colorado (C4HCO). Findings have been synthesized in the following issue briefs.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a program of assisters called Health Coverage Guides in Colorado to help individuals, families and small businesses learn about their health coverage options through a state insurance marketplace and to assist with enrollment. Between October 1 and November 25, the Consumer Engagement Project collected 56 surveys from individuals either after they met with a Health Coverage Guide or during organized group user sessions. Despite the small sample size, clear themes emerged.
We need to build a knowledge base so clients do not become disenfranchised.
– Health Coverage Guide
The Connect for Health (C4HCO) marketplace is designed to serve as a place where individuals and small businesses can shop for coverage using easily understood comparable information about their coverage options. The Marketplace is one of multiple entry points where Coloradans can obtain coverage. There is a “no wrong door” approach; this means individuals and families should be able to complete an application for coverage either through the marketplace, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHP+). Between December 2013 and March 2014, the Consumer Engagement Project interviewed eligibility and enrollment professionals (including Health Coverage Guides and county eligibility workers) from across Colorado. Based on feedback, four themes emerged regarding the eligibility and enrollment process.
Very professional and a caring environment, really took the time to make sure I understood everything.
– Survey Respondent
The Connect for Health Colorado (C4HCO) Marketplace is designed to serve as a portal where individuals and small businesses can easily compare and shop for health insurance. The website allows consumers to evaluate insurance plans side-by-side and narrow their options using multiple filtering and sorting tools. Survey findings reveal the ability to compare health insurance plans side-by-side is valuable, while website filters and the financial assistance application process can present challenges.
It’s easy to shop for plans if you already know your desired provider, but I could not find a way to shop plans and then get a list of providers in network.
– Survey Respondent
Health disparities correlating with race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, economic status and other demographic factors continue to be a top priority among health policy researchers and policy makers. In 2013, more than one in five Hispanic Coloradans (22%) were uninsured compared with just over one in nine non-Hispanic Coloradans (12%). Lower income Coloradans below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level comprised 70% of the uninsured but only 45% of the Colorado’s population. Targeted, well funded education and enrollment activities must be utilized to effectively reach these populations. The Connect for Health Colorado (C4HCO) Marketplace uses a number of strategies to provide outreach, education and enrollment assistance to diverse populations. These efforts include contracting with a range of Assistance Network sites, promoting multi-language print communications and partnering with key organizations representing diverse populations.
Password requirements that include special characters means I won’t remember it easily.
– Survey Respondent
Now that the first open enrollment period has ended, it is essential that C4HCO work in collaboration with its partners to examine lessons offered from the first enrollment experience to maximize enrollments during the second open enrollment period. C4HCO is already working to complete several major structural and technological improvements before the next open enrollment period, including a major effort to streamline the Medicaid and marketplace application process and a revamp to the small business marketplace. But there is still much that can be done to realize the goals of Colorado Senate Bill 11-200 – which established C4HCO with the intent to increase access, affordability and choice for health coverage.