DENVER (AP) — Complaining of slow signups by people seeking insurance on the state health-insurance exchange, the Colorado exchange board pushed Monday for an overhaul to speed complex Medicaid and insurance applications.
The Connect for Health Colorado board is worried about a looming Dec. 15 deadline for those stuck in computer purgatory.
Consumers trying to enroll in private insurance plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) must first fill out a lengthy Medicaid application, and then wait to be approved or denied, before moving to the next step.
If Medicaid takes the full 45-day period allowed to give a response, current buyers will miss the Dec. 15 deadline to have coverage begin or continue Jan. 1, exchange board members warned.
The Connect for Health Colorado board is working with officials at Medicaid on both short- and long-term fixes. Many officials and consumer advocates believe the multi-step process is one reason exchange enrollments in Colorado are so low, at about 3,400 in six weeks.
“This is people who want to join us but can’t because of the collective challenges we have,” said board member Steve ErkenBrack, president of Rocky Mountain Health Plans in Grand Junction.
“I’m sitting on day 36″ waiting for Medicaid’s answer, said health care activist Donna Smith, who has battled cancer and needs new coverage. “This is a very real human issue, and day 36 is making me very nervous.”
Non-voting exchange board member Sue Birch, director of Medicaid’s overseer in Colorado, the Department of Health Care Policy and Finance, said simplification is under way.