Private health plans lag in county as deadline nears

As the deadline for enrollment approaches, the numbers show Medicaid enrollment from Montezuma County outstripped enrollment in private insurance through the new state-run health exchange.

The deadline to sign up for insurance through the state-run health exchange is on Monday, March 31, and once the deadline passes, new application will not be accepted until 2015. There will be exceptions for people who experience events such as a move into the state or a job loss.

As of March 15, local Medicaid enrollment totaled 1,062 people. Only 455 people from Montezuma County had signed up for private insurance through the exchange as of March 8.

Across the state, the same pattern was apparent. About 100,000 people signed up for private insurance, and about 151,000 signed up for Medicaid.

All new enrollees through the state health exchange, known as Connect for Health Colorado, must apply for Medicaid first.

During the final push to the deadline the state does expect the number of applications to pick up, said Marc Williams a representative with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

But he said wait times for determining eligibility for Medicaid have improved since December, and the main reason for a delay is an incomplete application.

“Applicants who have submitted complete and accurate applications are getting a real-time eligibility determination about 60 percent of the time” he said.

People who remain uninsured through March 31 will face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is higher, on their taxes.