Every year, Colorado extends its health insurance Open Enrollment period for an additional month, letting individuals sign up for coverage or change their plan options until January 15th. But even with the additional time, many Coloradoans still have trouble signing up for coverage.
In the past, short-term health insurance plans were the way to go in these scenarios. Unfortunately, federal regulators chased all the short-term plans out of the state, so you can no longer get one in Colorado. But that doesn’t mean that you’re out of options.
Whether you weren’t able to afford a plan or simply forgot that Open Enrollment was happening, you’ve still got some options on the table that can keep you protected.
Option one: Go without coverage
Let’s be clear: “option one” really isn’t an option at all. Going without health insurance entirely is more than just a bad idea. It’s a fast-track to financial ruin, especially when you look at how fast emergency room and hospital costs are going up.
It doesn’t matter how healthy you are, how many miles you run, or how many supplements you take. At one point or another, you are going to need medical attention. And if it’s because of a serious illness or emergency, that medical attention is going to cost you. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, enough to completely derail your life.
Option two: Get group coverage through an employer
One of the biggest exceptions to the Open Enrollment rules is group plans that are offered by an employer. If you are signing up for a group plan, you can sign up any time of year. There’s no need to wait until OE to get coverage.
If you are currently employed, it might be worth looking into any group plans that are available. If not, then it might be worth your while to start looking for an employer who has a decent healthcare plan. (You certainly wouldn’t be the only one).
Option three: Consider a health care sharing plan (Healthshare)
One of the best options for people looking for immediate protection also happens to be one of the most affordable.
It’s called Health Care Cost Sharing, or simply Healthshare for short. And it’s an up and coming alternative to health insurance that is already saving people a lot of money. These low-premium plans are not technically insurance at all, but rather a group of like-minded Americans who are committed to sharing the cost of medical care.
But most importantly:
- There’s no enrollment period, so you can sign up at any time, and
- Health sharing plans are about half the monthly cost of unsubsidized insurance
How do Healthshare plans work?
Healthshare plans work a lot like insurance, with a few key differences.
You still pay a monthly contribution, just like a health insurance premium. There’s also an Initial Unshared Amount, which can be thought of as a deductible. Like insurance, these two things will vary depending on the specific plan that you choose.
What’s the catch with Heathshare plans?
One of the reasons that healthshare plans are more affordable is because they are not as comprehensive. Many health sharing organizations have 1- or 2-year waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, and unlike ACA plans, healthshare plans are not required to pay for preventive care.
In general, health sharing plans are good for people who are generally healthy and don’t use their insurance that much. If you have a lot of medical costs or a serious medical condition, health sharing might not be as good of a deal.
Talk to Your Personal Benefits Manager about health sharing plans
One of the most convenient and important things about health sharing plans is that you can sign up anytime. Even if you plan on switching back to health insurance in 2022, you can still stay protected for the rest of the year with health sharing.
Your Personal Benefits Manager can walk you through the available plans if you’re interested. Call 800-913-6381 to schedule a no-cost appointment, or click here to run a quote.
Here are some additional articles on healthsharing programs: OneShare Health: The Most Popular Health Sharing Plan in Colorado | Miss Out on Health Insurance Open Enrollment?
Leslie Jablonski is a Personal Benefits Manager at ColoHealth. Her aim is to help you make smart and informed healthcare coverage decisions that will fit your needs and budget. Read more about Leslie on her Bio page.