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Health Centers Racing to Jan. 15 Enrollment Deadline

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018   

ALAMOSA, Colo. — Colorado's community health centers are pressing forward with efforts to get more residents covered under the Affordable Care Act, despite a recent Texas court ruling that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.

The federal court's decision is expected to be appealed, and Joseph Rivera, outreach and enrollment lead with Valley-Wide Health Systems, said the ruling doesn't change anything for 2019 coverage. He added there's still time to enroll before the state's January 15 deadline.

"Don't assume you won't qualify for assistance to help pay for the cost of care, or that it's too expensive,” Rivera said. “You can go to the Connect for Health Colorado website and search for a location to receive face-to-face assistance in your area."

Colorado's deadline comes a month later than the federal marketplace.

Early indications show enrollment numbers at the national level declined by at least 4 percent from the previous year. The Trump administration said it cut the advertising budget for ACA enrollment by 90 percent to avoid wasteful spending.

Jenni Rodriguez, outreach and enrollment lead with the Mountain Family Health Centers, said her team has prioritized its outreach to rural areas, where many people aren't aware that financial assistance is available.

She said for many Coloradans, coverage can cost less than some cell-phone plans.

"We've had a lot of radio commercials, social media, newspapers. We went around and gave presentations to our community partners,” Rodriguez said. “We also canvassed our cities and other small towns, posting flyers, leaving brochures."

Rivera said health insurance is a complex business decision for many families, and it helps to have access to people who can break down how technical terminology impacts their pocketbooks.

"What a deductible is, a co-insurance, a maximum out-of-pocket - many don't deal with those terms on a daily basis,” Rivera said. “And so our role is to help people to understand those things."

He said many families learn about coverage options by word of mouth, and he encouraged Coloradans to help spread the news about the upcoming January 15 deadline, and the assistance available at health centers and online at ConnectforHealthColorado.org.


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