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Women Are Key to Improved Health Coverage, Say Health Advocates

Photo: Help available for Colorado women to enroll in health care exchange. Courtesy: Colorado Consumer Health Initative
Photo: Help available for Colorado women to enroll in health care exchange. Courtesy: Colorado Consumer Health Initative
July 31, 2013

DENVER - Four out of five times, it's women making a family's health-care decisions. Come October, when Connect for Health Colorado - the state's new health-care marketplace - starts enrollment, Ryann Nickerson, communications director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), will have done everything in her power to help prepare those consumers.

"They're typically the key decision makers for their families," she said, "so ensuring that women know how they're going to be affected and what benefits they have for the new health-care law is extremely important."

Through outreach programs, COLOR and other nonprofits are publishing Health Coverage Guides and offering assistance at health clinics. They've also created a new call center and online chat forum to help women find an appropriate health plan for themselves and their families. Actual coverage begins in January.

Nickerson said the lower wages typically paid to women compared with their male counterparts make it difficult to secure health coverage, and many healthy women choose other necessities over check-ups.

"If you're healthy, many people think they don't need it," she said, "but in the end the cost of doing preventive health, investing in your health, might help you save money in the long run."

Nickerson and others are working to reach out to Latina women with a postcard campaign, encouraging them to enroll in October.

The new health-care marketplace is made possible by the Affordable Care Act. More information can be found at connectforhealthco.com.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - CO