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More than half a million Coloradans expected to enroll in Medicaid, CHP+ due to pandemic job losses

Colorado unemployment rate hit 11.3% in April
CO releases health insurance rate hike requests
Posted at 2:37 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 16:44:57-04

DENVER – Colorado officials said Wednesday they expect more than half a million more Coloradans to enroll in the state’s Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus plans in the next few months, mainly due to people losing job-based health insurance coverage due to job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state’s projection would mean that more people would enroll in the state’s Medicaid program in the next few months than the 400,000 who enrolled over a two-year period after Colorado expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2013.

As of March 2020, 1.3 million were enrolled in Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid program, and CHP+. The anticipated new enrollment would total about 40% of the number of Coloradans enrolled in both programs as of March.

"The COVID-19 pandemic makes it that much more important for Coloradans who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage to find ways to stay covered,” said Kim Bimestefer, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, in a statement. "Our programs will provide individuals and families with needed health care coverage and peace of mind during this economic downturn. We are here to help you, Colorado."

The department said in a news release that the increase in unemployment in Colorado, where the unemployment rate moved from 2.5% in February to a record-high 11.3% in April, was one of the driving factors behind the projections.

Secondly, the department said, it is not allowed to disenroll members from Medicaid during a declared public health emergency.

“When the public health emergency ends, the Department projects an estimated disenrollment of more than 300,000 members who do not meet eligible criteria,” the department said.

The state opened special windows during the first months of the pandemic to allow people to sign up for insurance through the state-run system, Connect for Health Colorado. But job losses continued after the end date.

Coloradans are able to sign up for Health First Colorado (Medicaid) or CHP+ at any time during the year if they are eligible.

Eligibility is based on income and other factors, but individuals earning under $1,415 before taxes per month and families of four earning less than $3,101 per month before taxes are typically eligible to qualify.

Coloradans aged 18 and under and pregnant women who don’t quality for Health First Colorado could qualify for CHP+ if they earn less than $2,765 a month as an individual or less than $5,677 a month before taxes for a family of four.

People who believe they may be eligible can click here to find out more.