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Advancing Health Equity Through ACA Open Enrollment

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Any Colorado resident who loses health coverage due to qualifying events, including job loss or divorce, has a 60-day window to enroll for coverage through Connect for Health Colorado. (Pixabay)
Any Colorado resident who loses health coverage due to qualifying events, including job loss or divorce, has a 60-day window to enroll for coverage through Connect for Health Colorado. (Pixabay)
November 9, 2020

DENVER -- Coloradans of color are suffering significantly higher rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths than White residents, and health groups are ramping up efforts to connect communities most at risk with health coverage during the Affordable Care Act's open-enrollment period.

Deidre Johnson, CEO and executive director of the Center for African-American Health, said getting more people of color enrolled through the state's health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, can begin to close a longstanding, systemic health equity gap.

"When you think about a lot of the barriers to access, it's really people knowing what resources are available to them," Johnson explained. "So the more we can get the word out, the more we can get people enrolled, the easier it will be to break down one of those barriers to health equity, which is health coverage."

Johnson noted disparities in health outcomes only get worse when people don't have health insurance, and she encouraged any Colorado resident currently without coverage to visit connectforhealthco.com to check out available options. Some people may even qualify for coverage at no cost through Medicaid.

The economic fallout of the pandemic has left thousands of Coloradans without insurance after they were laid off and lost their employer-linked coverage.

Johnson added help is available under the "We Can Help" tab at connectforhealthco.com. Just type in your ZIP code, and you'll get a list of certified groups in your area that can help navigate what Johnson said can be a complicated series of decisions.

"And it really is a walk through all of the requirements," Johnson described. "So first, 'Are you eligible?' And if you are, 'What are the various plans you can choose from that really meet the needs of you and your family, and are you eligible for certain financial assistance?'"

Open enrollment through the Affordable Care Act kicked off on Nov. 1 and will close after Jan. 15.

Johnson added that anyone who loses coverage due to what's called a qualifying event, such as job loss or divorce, has a 60-day window to enroll for coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO