Help available in outbreak to obtain health insurance

Stephanie Motter

In just three months, coronavirus has gone from a blip on our radar by way of international news to imposing a real presence in our communities with life-changing effects.

Shortly after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a disaster-related to the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.

The  Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported more than 127,000 claims for unemployment insurance were filed between March 16 and April 3. By the end of April, the state expects more than a two-fold increase in jobless claims.

In Mesa County, 41 unemployment claims were filed between Feb. 29 and March 7; but 462 claims were filed between March 14 and 21. Another 2,288 claims were filed between March 22 and April 10. Those numbers represent an almost 400 percent increase in unemployment claims. Although there’s a more than two-week lag in reporting those numbers, the Mesa County Workforce Center expects jobless numbers to continue to shoot up through the end of April.

To state the obvious, many of these unemployment claims represent real lives affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

If you or a loved one find yourself without health insurance benefits because of the outbreak, this message is for you.

Connect for Health Colorado has opened an emergency special enrollment period for individuals and families whose jobs have been or will be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Monument Health based in Grand Junction is proud to be involved in this effort.

The original offering began on March 20 and was scheduled to end April 3. However, Connect for Health Colorado recognized the exploding need and extended the emergency open enrollment period until April 30.

This emergency enrollment ends April 30. But if you experience a life-changing event such as losing your health insurance due to job loss, you can buy health insurance on Connect for Health Colorado within 60 days of that event. Moreover, subsidies could be available to help you and your family cover expenses during this time, making coverage and the peace of mind that comes with it a reasonable possibility.

If you feel overwhelmed because you don’t know where to start or how to apply for health insurance benefits, additional resources are available to help.

Hilltop Community Resources and its health access office can help you determine eligibility and walk you through the application process. For more information, call 244-0850 or visit https://hilltophealthaccess.org.

Working directly with Connect for Health Colorado offers another option. Review helpful information online at https://connectforhealthco.com or take advantage of Connect for Health enrollment centers in Western Colorado. Although the centers don’t allow walk-ins

because of social distancing guidelines, you can locate the closest center on an interactive map found at https://connectforhealthco.com/enrollment-center and call to schedule a virtual appointment.

Another great way to learn about all your options is to contact a local health insurance broker.  While we work with several insurance brokers and highly recommend all of them, there are simply too many to mention by name.

Finally, if you need help from the Monument Health wellness warriors, call 683-5630. We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Although we’re not an insurance company, our team of local professionals brings together doctors, hospitals, employer groups and insurance companies to achieve better health outcomes and contain costs.   

Thanks to statewide leadership and Coloradans committed to helping one another, our state and communities have been nimble and responsive during this uncertain time. Monument Health remains proud to be #DoingOurPartCO.

Stephanie Motter is chief executive officer of Monument Health, a clinically integrated health care network in Mesa County. She previously worked as vice president for quality and clinical strategy at DaVita. She serves as a trustee at Colorado Mesa University and participates on the Mesa County Workforce Development Board. For more information about Monument Health, visit www.MonumentHealth.net.