For the first time, Coloradans can purchase Colorado Option health insurance plans through the state’s individual marketplace without documentation — and many may be eligible for financial assistance.
Priya Telang, communications manager at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, said the new OmniSalud program will give more Colorado residents access to routine health care and prescription medications at a lower and more predictable cost.
“Colorado Option plans will cover all of the essential health benefits included in the Affordable Care Act,” Telang said. “And many of the services will not have co-payments, including visits to primary care, mental or behavioral health, antenatal and postnatal care.”
DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – recipients and undocumented migrants can also receive financial assistance.
Individuals earning less than $1,700 per month, or just under $3,500 for a family of four, may qualify for zero-bonus plans.
Some health insurers and employers opposed the Colorado option, which lawmakers passed in 2021, warning that the move would result in higher premiums and further complicate the insurance market.
Telang argued that the Colorado option makes it easier for consumers to shop based on quality, network and price because the plans offer the same benefits across metal tiers and insurance providers.
She added that the measure also requires insurance companies to reduce premiums for standardized plans by 5% in 2023, 10% in 2024 and 15% in 2025 compared to 2021 premiums.
“This is a great opportunity for consumers,” Telang said, “because it creates more competition in the individual and small group market and should reduce overall premium costs.”
The Colorado Option provisions also aim to address the persistent lack of trust in the medical system by people of color — which stems from ongoing and historic harm to these communities — by taking steps to empower health center staff to provide patients, to make them more like those they serve.
Telang pointed out that by law, any information collected during the registration process cannot be shared with federal agencies, including US citizenship and immigration authorities.
“Consumers who sign up for the OmniSalud program will not be asked about their immigration status,” Telang said. “And information from the health insurance application is confidential.”