500 sign up for health exchange training customers

The Obama administration’s extension of a yearlong grace period for large businesses to provide health care insurance to their employees doesn’t change the requirements that individuals obtain coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.

In fact, representatives of Connect for Health Colorado, the Colorado health insurance exchange, planned to speak with consumers at this past weekend’s Deltarado Days in Delta, exchange officials said.

Connect for Health Colorado remains on pace to open for business Oct. 1, Myung Kim, director of communications, said in an email.

Training began this past week for agents and brokers, as well as “regional hubs” such as Hilltop Community Services in Grand Junction. More than 500 people signed up for training as agents and brokers, Kim said.

Organizations such as Mountain West Insurance and Financial Services in Grand Junction are continuing to work with large employers and Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Bill Killgore, president of the company, said.

“We’re trying to be very proactive with clients,” Killgore said. “We’re trying to reach out to employer clients and keep them posted with information.”

The Obama administration plans to use the additional implementation year to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements.

At the same time, the Treasury Department plans to discuss the rules with stakeholders, including employers that currently provide health coverage to employees, and then publish proposed rules for the provisions.

“There just was not enough time to gear up for the enforcement of those provisions” on large employers, Killgore said, noting they could be onerous.

The failure of large employers to provide insurance meeting the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act could amount to $3,000 a day, he said.

Connect for Health Colorado, meanwhile, is testing its computer system and making other preparations for its startup.

That date will give consumers three months to meet the Jan. 1, 2014, deadline to obtain coverage.

One of the jobs of Connect for Health Colorado will be to help customers determine whether they qualify for federal subsidies to purchase insurance.


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