DENVER (CBS4) Coloradoans got their first look at the health insurance exchange – Connect for Health Colorado. It’s a state run marketplace where insurance companies can offer competing health insurance plans for individuals, families and small businesses that qualify. Connect for Health Colorado also meets the mandates put for in the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Mike Keglovitis is one of the many Coloradoans who will be looking for health insurance on the exchange. His daughter, Violet, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 2.

“She’s been a trooper,” Keglovitis said of Violet.

This father of two and his wife have had to learn how to take care of their child’s changing blood sugar levels. There have been countless doctors’ appointments, trips to the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, and a whole new world of medical equipment to use. The family estimates they’re paying $1700 a month for insurance and medical bills.

“We could not afford not to be covered,” Keglovitis told CBS4.

Since the diagnosis, this family has undergone big changes. Violet’s mom quit her job to care for her. Now they have less income and no access to group health insurance. Keglovitis hopes to get some relief through Connect for Health Colorado.

The website is designed to explain who’s eligible and how to get an insurance policy that fits their needs. The exchange is for individuals and families who are not currently getting insurance through their employer, patients with a pre-existing condition, and small businesses and non-profit organizations that couldn’t afford to offer health insurance in the past. There are about 100 different policies offered from 18 different insurance companies.

“I think the benefit is really creating that choice and transparency in the market place so again you can look at apples-to-apples comparisons against multiple plans,” said Lindy Hinman, the Chief Operating Officer of Connect for Health Colorado.

Each of the plans has a basic level of coverage, called Essential Health Benefits, required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The Essential Health Benefits include

— Ambulatory Patient Services

— Emergency Services

— Hospitalization

— Maternity and Newborn Care

— Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services

— Prescription Drugs

— Rehabilitative Services and Devices

— Laboratory Services

— Preventative and Wellness Services

— Chronic Disease Management

— Pediatric Services, including Dental and Vision Care

The level of coverage in each area varies by plan and consumers can opt to add extra vision and other coverage.

“I think it’s really important to look beyond just the basic details of the plan to understand what you really get,“ Hinman advised.

RELATED: Colorado & The Affordable Care Act

“We’re also going to qualify for the subsidy, so for our family…we’re going to save hundreds of dollars a month, Keglovitis told CBS4.

Federal financial assistance is only available on the website. It’s based on size of household and annual income levels. There is a calculator on the website that tells you what you qualify for, and you can fill out the application there too.

Connect for Health Colorado offers a toll free phone number, 855-752-6749, where you can get help navigating the exchange. You can also get help from one of the certified assistance sites, these are organizations in the community that are trained on the exchange.

Open enrollment starts October 1st and runs through December, 15th. Plans and benefits start January 1, 2014.

–Written for by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith


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