DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s state-run insurance exchange says it’s on track to be self-sustaining by next year, telling lawmakers that enrollment is perking up and that taxes on premiums should be lower than in states using the federal exchange.
Officials from Connect For Health Colorado, the state marketplace for buying health insurance, told lawmakers that Colorado’s exchange won’t need high fees on premiums to be self-supporting by 2015, when federal subsidies run out.
“This is easily sustainable,” exchange CEO Patty Fontneau said.
Almost 69,000 people have gotten private health insurance through the exchange that meets new federal mandates, Fontneau said. That’s a big uptick from the end of 2013, when just over 50,000 had gotten coverage.
“As much as we may have overestimated what would happen in October and November, we underestimated what would happen in January,” she said.
Uninsured folks must acquire insurance by the end of March to avoid federal tax penalties.
The exchange laid out its plan for being self-sustaining last year. Lawmakers on a committee set up specifically to oversee the exchange voted 7-2 Thursday to approve Connect for Health’s financial and operational plans.
Even a Republican who insists the federal health overhaul was unconstitutional says Colorado’s exchange is on track to go it alone after federal subsidies run out.
“You’ve done as good a job as can be done with a difficult federal statute,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.
Exchange officials said that they plan to trim staff to save money later this year and next year. They didn’t give specifics, but said the exchange will need less staff to sustain operations than it did to get the exchange off the ground. The staff now includes more than 200 customer service staff and 425 “Certified Health Coverage Guides” to help people shop for a plan.
“We can reduce our staff and become as cost-effective as possible” after building technology to keep the exchange going, Fontneau said.
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