Project Health Colorado is here to help answer your questions. And when the responses are really complex, we call on health care experts from across Colorado—doctors, consumer advocates, insurers and others—to answer the questions that you have asked. These experts represent and understand often complicated health care issues and provide you with straight answers. To select answers by the topics that most interests you, click on the circles below.
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Was there a law that was being looked at so that people could collectively buy insurance together at a lower cost?
The Affordable Care Act is a national law that was signed in 2010 will be implemented in 2014. As part of the Affordable Care Act, you can buy insurance directly in an Exchange that gives you the same opportunities as businesses to get better choices and lower prices. The law also creates a new non-profit health insurer, called a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP). CO-Ops will be run by its customers, and are meant to offer consumer-friendly, affordable health insurance options to individuals and small businesses. You can learn about new collective insurance options by going to HealthCare.gov.
In Colorado, individuals and small businesses will be able to review, compare and purchase health insurance through the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange, which is scheduled to be available in late 2013.
Would it be more affordable if all citizens were covered by some form of health coverage? Instead of everyone for themselves in finding adequate health care coverage?
What is currently being done in Colorado to improve the quality of health care provided in our state?
There are a number of states and federal initiatives underway in Colorado that are working to address costs in the health care system while also improving patient care. The new federal health law requires that Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and people with disabilities, run pilot programs that pay a flat fee for a single episode of care. In Colorado, the emergence of Accountable Care Organizations, in which groups of health care providers coordinate to provide care to patients, will result in reimbursements for doctors and other providers being tied to the delivery of care that meets quality and cost benchmarks. As well, Colorado’s All Payer Claims Database, which was created by state legislators in 2010 and is currently in development, will make available claims data from all private insurance providers in Colorado, as well as Medicaid and Medicare. This kind of transparency will provide a comprehensive picture of health care costs in our state, helping to spur better solutions for how to make health care more efficient and affordable.
There can’t be that many people in Colorado who go without health insurance. How many people don’t have access to health care in Colorado?
Access isn't just about having health insurance. Consider the "underinsured" the 675,000 Coloradans who have health insurance but still cannot afford the health care services they need. These underinsured Coloradans, together with the 829,000 completely uninsured Coloradans, equals more than the populations of Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Greeley and Grand Junction combined. Access also means being able to see a doctor when you need to. In some rural communities in Colorado, for example, there are not enough doctors, dentists or other health care providers available to serve the communities’ needs.
I just lost my job and with it the health insurance for my family. Where can I find information about private insurance?
Colorado’s new Health Benefit Exchange will provide a complete list of all health care options available to consumers starting in October 2013. Until then, you can find helpful information on where to find private insurance at www.GetCoveredCO.org. Additionally, you may be eligible for public health insurance, and you can find information about options in Colorado and what you qualify for by using the Program Eligibility and Application Kit here. And you can find information about how the new federal health care law impacts you here.
I don’t understand who pays for Medicare. Does the state or federal government pay the costs?
There are two public insurance programs with similar names – Medicare (for seniors) and Medicaid (for disabled and low-income people). The federal government pays Medicare costs, and states and the federal government share the costs of Medicaid.
I’ve heard that Colorado has a really low percentage of insured children compared to other states. Is that true?
About 90% of children have health insurance in Colorado. While that seems like great news, it does mean that somewhere between 112,200 and 124,128 children still do not have coverage. It is not too much to ask that all of Colorado’s kids have access to the health care they need, when they need it. You can read more in a new report, Crossing the Finish Line: Achieving Meaningful Health Coverage and Access for All Children in Colorado.
What should I ask my doctor to help make sure that I get the best care possible?
Getting the best care starts with knowing what to ask your doctor. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a great checklist that patients should review prior to seeing their doctor. The checklist helps you organize and remember the most important questions you can ask to improve the quality of the care you receive.
Where can I find information about how the costs for a given medical procedure at one hospital compare to the costs at another?
This is a question that many people have. While this information is not easily available now, it will be soon. Colorado’s legislature directed that a new tool be developed to help people compare costs across medical providers. The Center for Improving Value in Health Care is working on this new resource, which will be a comprehensive source of all public and private health insurers in Colorado. The database is expected to be available later in 2012, and we will provide a link to this resource as soon as it is completed.
If I have a pre-existing health condition, can my health insurance company deny me insurance?
Once certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect in 2014, insurance companies will not be able to kick people off of their plans or deny them insurance due to pre-existing medical conditions. Currently, Colorado residents who have been denied health insurance because of a medical issue can get coverage through Cover Colorado.