Health-insurance biz should open site in Grand Junction, business boosters say

The Colorado health insurance exchange is working on a customer-service center to be open in time for its Oct. 1 rollout.

Club 20 and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership have a suggestion as to how the exchange could meet that deadline: Locate in Grand Junction.

The exchange, which is changing its name to Connect for Health Colorado, is in the process of seeking a center, which will administer a system under which thousands of people - most of them in organizations that provide services related to the exchange, exchange spokeswoman Myung Oak Kim told the Club 20 health care committee on Thursday.

That prompted Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Petersen to inquire where the center might be located, to which Kim said she didn’t know.

“We intend to open in the state,” Kim said.

That was enough for Petersen.

“Who do I call?” she said.

Later, Kelly Flenniken, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said she was unaware of any plans by the exchange to set up operations in Grand Junction and that she had the same question Petersen did.

“I will do some research on that,” Flenniken said.

Once operational, the exchange will have an annual operating budget of $22 to $26 million, Kim noted.

Discussion about the possible location of a customer-service center came against the backdrop of trying to meet the deadline established in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The exchange is being built to serve individuals needing insurance and small employers, those with fewer than 50 employees. By 2016, it will offer coverage to companies with fewer than 100 employees.

Under the federal law, the exchange will be the only way in which consumers can obtain subsidies for coverage, as well as the only way employers can obtain tax credits for offering coverage.

It also will work with the Internal Revenue Service to ascertain whether consumers qualify for subsidies, Kim noted.

Plans call for the exchange to begin working with consumers in October, but no policies will be in effect until Jan. 1, 2014.


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