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June 2009 St@teside

Colorado Passes Laws to Improve Accessibility to Both Public and Private Health Insurance

In an attempt to cut back on administrative obstacles, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill (H.B. 1020) on May 21 that requires the state to establish a system of online and telephone re-enrollment for those who are members of Medicaid and the state’s children’s health insurance program (CHIP).  The bill codifies a project that is currently underway in the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.  According to the bill, the system would expedite the processing of applications, permit online re-enrollment, and create a telephone-based customer contact center.  The Department is expected to make the call center capable of processing renewal applications over the phone, as well as responding to member questions.  A fiscal analysis of the bill has determined that this will lead to less re-enrollment application processing at county offices for? human services, thereby possibly enabling counties to shift resources to processing initial applications for medical assistance.[1]

Another bill that Ritter signed in late May (H.B. 1224) prohibits insurance companies from using gender as a factor in determining rates and benefits for individual health plans.  In preventing such gender discrimination, Colorado will join 12 other states that prohibit or restrict gender-based rating in the individual market.  Middle-aged and younger women are charged as much as 30 to 40 percent more than their male counterparts for the same coverage.  In 2006-2007, more than 130,000 women in Colorado were insured through the individual market.[2]

[1] Colorado:  New Laws Simplify Medicaid Re-Enrollment, Modify State Regulations for Health Insurance, BNA’s Health Care Policy Report, June 1, 2009.
[2] Ibid.