Montrose, Hotchkiss Connect for Health Offices See Busy First Days

Oct 3, 2013

Officials with Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s new online health exchange, said the website saw 79,000 unique visitors for its first day on Monday.

Alicia Plantz with the Montrose Connect for Health Office says she’s received plenty of calls and some walk-ins over the past few days. She says most of the people she’s talked to so far want to know whether they’re eligible for financial assistance.

Under the new system some federal money is available to help individuals and families pay for health coverage, mainly for veterans and those who don’t have coverage, or who’s employers don’t offer affordable plans.

Plantz says some people are still just wondering how the program works.

“Yesterday we had a few come in that didn’t really know anything,” she says, “so we just briefed them on what Connect for Health Colorado was.”

Maria Forster, the Connect for Health guide for the North Fork Valley based in Hotchkiss, says of the people she’s talked to since Monday some are interested in federal subsidies, while others are just looking for more affordable healthcare options.

“I would say a good portion of them have had coverage, but it’s very expensive coverage,” Forster says. “Some of them had received notices that their rate would be going up, and some people said they’ve received notices that they’re canceled.”

Forster adds that some others simply haven’t been able to have health insurance in the past because of the price.  

News outlets on Tuesday reported some glitches and freezers with the exchange on its first days, but Plantz says the people she talked to didn’t see many problems.   

“A lot of people I’ve talked to could get around the site,” she says. “They didn’t really have any questions about the application yet, they just had general questions about the exchange.”

Maria Forster says despite the early handful of interested healthcare shoppers, there’s still some work to be done simply letting people know the exchange is up and running.

“My sense is that people’ve heard about it, they do not understand how it works,” says Forster. “It is a very complicated matter for many people. They do need a lot more information on how it’s going to be structured.”

“I think it’s going to need to build through word of mouth and more public meetings,” she says.

Connect for Health spokesman Ben Davis told the Denver Post visitors to the site have generally been happy with its performance, adding that the exchange is continuing to clear up some error messages.