Sign-ups for insurance through Colorado’s health exchange are running significantly above what they were at this time last year, according to new figures published by the exchange.
Through November, 43,881 people had selected a medical plan on Connect for Health Colorado. At the end of November in 2016, 34,085 had selected a plan.
Connect for Health Colorado is the state’s marketplace where people can receive a tax credit to buy plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act. That act, which is also known as Obamacare, requires everyone to have health insurance but also provides financial help — such as the tax credits — for lower-income people not covered by their employers or the government to purchase insurance.
The law, though, has faced quite a battering in the past year. Republicans in Congress have made multiple attempts to repeal it. President Donald Trump announced in October that he would discontinue key payments.
Now, the U.S. Senate appears poised to pass a tax bill that would repeal the “individual mandate” penalty — the provision requiring everyone to have insurance or else they have to pay a tax fine. If that happens, insurance premiums are expected to rise as millions of people drop coverage.
“With all the uncertainty in the public policy, many of us did not know what to expect in this Open Enrollment Period,” Kevin Patterson, Connect for Health Colorado’s CEO, wrote in a message to stakeholders Friday. “Now, as we approach the midway point, we have reason to be optimistic.”
Open enrollment on Connect for Health Colorado opened on Nov. 1, and it runs through Jan. 12. But, if people want insurance that kicks in on Jan. 1, they only have until Dec. 15 to sign up.
After open enrollment closes, people can only buy plans on Connect for Health Colorado if they have a life-changing event, like losing a job, getting married or divorced or having a child.
The underlying premiums for the plans being sold on Connect for Health Colorado climbed this year by more than 30 percent. But, because tax credits rise as premiums do, many people could end up paying less for insurance this year. People not eligible for tax credits because they make too much money, though, will have to pay out hundreds or thousands of dollars more per year for coverage.