I waited a month before before using Connect for Health Colorado because I heard about the insurance exchange website problems. The exchanges started in October. It’s November now so I did it — I purchased health insurance with the exchange. There were a few minor website issues which I will discuss later but, overall it was a vast improvement over what I went through just a year ago. As expected, the price was higher than last year (it’s higher every year, nothing new).
Over the past few years I have had insurance problems. I left my previous employer and their group insurance plan but purchased individual insurance from the same carrier according to COBRA rules — other individual insurance choices were very expensive. After 18 months COBRA came to an end and so did my insurance. Along the way I moved to a different state. So, I had to get new insurance in a new state. I quickly learned insurance companies require payment of the first month premium before they would would consider an application (or tell you a firm price), a definite deterrent to applying for too many alternatives.
I applied to 2 insurance companies and dutifully filled out the 15 page health questionnaire for each. One company, the affiliate of my original insurance company, immediately rejected my application, no questions asked. I suddenly realized I had been designated persona non grata within that national carrier without even knowing it — the possibility of insurance with them had been cancelled. Too old, too many claims, who knows? They advised I contact a state program for people in my situation (increased risk so let the state take the case!)
The other company requested a letter from my doctor and after some anxious weeks they approved my insurance (for which I will always be grateful).
Now, a year later, my new insurance company sent me a letter stating that all their policies were being revised to comply with the new insurance rules. They promised to let me continue as a customer with a new policy but, the current policy was cancelled. Not again!
I fired up my computer and logged on to the insurance exchange. There were four insurance company choices. Each insurance company had a quality rating 1 to 5 stars and a list of prices and benefits. Thankfully, my current insurance company had 5 quality stars and was also the lowest priced. I noticed the original insurance company that gave me the lightning rejection last year now wants my business — sorry big buddy, your application is rejected by me!
The information I had to enter was minimal. The only intrusive information required was whether I smoked (heaven forbid) and my race. But, compared to the questions last year this was a piece of cake. Last year it took me 6 hours to get through all the questions, now the whole process took only an hour. Last year I felt like every question was intended to disqualify me or find some evidence of a preexisting condition. This year the pressure was off.
I added the insurance to my “CART” and checked out. I must pay the first month premium, but not right now. Finally, there was the “DONE” button which was a nice touch.
As I mentioned initially, there are a few website issues. On several pages the prompt to enter information overlaps with the actual information field. One page opens at the bottom not showing missing information at the top — when submit is clicked the site says information is missing — I scroll up and fill in the blanks. Finally, the system has difficulty finding my current provider’s name — only by using “ADVANCED SEARCH” is it successful.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the experience. I suppose people who have not applied for insurance in the past few years will fail to realize what a huge mess we had. Health insurance cost needs to come down — fodder for more blogs!