State health exchange is to benefit small business

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The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange will offer multiple coverage choices to individuals and small employers in 2014, even though the federal exchange will offer only one choice.

The exchange, which will be known this spring as “Connect for Health Colorado”  will offer an “enhanced employer/employee choice model” to small employers, the exchange said in a statement Thursday:

“Colorado is implementing the technology and operational support necessary to offer small employers more health plan choices than exist in the market today.”

The federal exchange, known as the Health Insurance Marketplace, will serve more than 30 states, but not Colorado.

States were allowed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to make their own exchanges or rely on the federal program.

Colorado, said Randy Pifer of Active Insurance Solutions in Grand Junction, is “probably in the top three as far as being organized and being ready to go.”

The key was that the Colorado exchange hired Jim Sugden, a former insurance broker, to put together the exchange for small employers.

“He knows this thing from all possible avenues,” Pifer said. “The bottom line is that we want it to be successful, too, and get more people insured.”

The exchange is to begin taking applications Oct. 1, but coverage sold through it will be effective Jan. 1, 2014.

The federal exchange is to be able to offer coverage choices in 2015.


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