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AARP AARP States Colorado Health & Wellbeing

How to Sign Up for ACA Health Insurance in Colorado

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What’s New for 2024 Open Enrollment

  • Key dates: Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024. Because Jan. 15 is a federal holiday, applications will be accepted through 3 a.m. MT on Jan. 17, 2024.
  • What’s changed: More Coloradans will qualify for state-funded health care discounts and adult children may stay on their parents’ plan through the end of the calendar year that they turn 26.
Connect for Health Colorado
Connect for Health Colorado's homepage

Am I eligible?

Nearly all Colorado residents are eligible to buy insurance through Connect for Health Colorado or through the OmniSalud program, for people who are undocumented. Find more information about eligibility on Connect for Health Colorado’s website.

Depending on your income, you may qualify for free or low-cost options such as Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid plan, or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), the state’s public health insurance for children and pregnant women. You’ll learn if you’re eligible when you apply for insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. For more information, including income limits, visit the marketplace website.

When is open enrollment?

  • Open enrollment for 2024 coverage runs from Nov. 1, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024. Because Jan. 15 is a federal holiday, applications will be accepted through 3 a.m. MT on Jan. 17, 2024. For coverage to begin on Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15.
  • Year-round enrollment is open to Coloradans who qualify for Health First Colorado or CHP+ and to members of federally recognized Native American tribes.
  • If you’re a new customer, you can enroll at any time if your household income is no more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($21,870 for one person or $45,000 for a family of four). Outside of open enrollment, coverage starts on the first of the month after you enroll.
  • Uninsured residents may be able to enroll during a special enrollment period during tax season.
  • If you have lost or are going to lose Health First Colorado coverage due to the federal government’s ending of pandemic-era Medicaid rules, you may enroll at any time through July 31, 2024.

What if I miss open enrollment?

If you don’t qualify for year-round or tax season enrollment and you're not losing Medicaid coverage, you’ll only be able to buy health insurance after open enrollment if you experience a qualifying life event. Qualifying events include certain moves, births and adoptions, loss of employer-provided coverage, marriage, divorce and other special circumstances. In most situations, you’ll have just 60 days from that event to enroll.

What’s changed in 2024?

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, you’ll be able to keep adult children on your health plan through the end of the calendar year that they turn 26. Previously, coverage ended on an adult child’s 26th birthday.

Colorado also raised the income limit to qualify for enhanced health care savings to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, up from 200 percent in 2023. This means a single person earning $36,450 or a family of four earning $75,000 now qualify for the highest level of cost-sharing discounts to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses.

How do I sign up?

You’ll learn what coverage you’re eligible for when you submit your application. If you qualify for private coverage, you can shop for plans and enroll immediately. Your coverage will begin once you’ve paid your first monthly premium.

If Connect for Health Colorado determines you may be eligible for Health First Colorado or CHP+, you’ll receive an email or letter from the state about next steps.

To apply and enroll:

  • Online: Go to Connect for Health Colorado’s website. You’ll find information about plans, financial assistance and ways to get help.
  • By phone: Call Connect for Health Colorado’s customer service center for enrollment and application assistance at the toll-free number 855-752-6749 (if calling inside the United States only) or 303-590-9675. If you’re hard of hearing, call the TTY line at 855-346-3432. Representatives are available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. MT, Monday through Friday.
  • By mail: Mail a paper application to Connect for Health Colorado Individual Applications, 4600 South Ulster St., Suite 300, Denver, CO 80237.
  • In person (or virtually): Contact an enrollment center near you to set up a virtual or in-person appointment with a certified insurance broker or enrollment assister. Or attend an enrollment event in your area.

If you or someone in your family is undocumented, you can sign up via a secure online platform through Colorado’s OmniSalud program.

What is covered, and how much will it cost?

Coverage and cost depend on where you live, the type of plan you choose, your household income, the size of your family and the ages of you and your family members.

If you qualify for Health First Colorado coverage or CHP+, you will be able to get free or low-cost insurance and may not need to worry about premiums or copays.

All Connect for Health Colorado plans cover essential health benefits, including:

  • Emergency services and hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services (including counseling)
  • Outpatient hospital care
  • Pediatric services, including dental and vision
  • Prescription drugs
  • Preventative care

Insurance companies cannot deny coverage because of preexisting conditions. When you apply, you can identify your medical needs and choose a plan that makes financial sense for you and your family.

All Connect for Health Colorado coverage plans include basic dental and vision services for children, but adults who want dental and vision insurance must add these plans to their policy. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs vary among plans.

What plans are available?

Connect for Colorado offers several kinds of plans, including the Colorado Option plans. Developed exclusively for the state, they offer free primary care and mental health visits along with other no-cost services. Connect for Health Colorado plans are organized into four categories:

  • Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums, the highest deductibles and copays, and cover roughly 60 percent of care costs. These plans are designed for those who are healthy and rarely go to the doctor.
  • Silver plans have moderate monthly premiums, deductibles and copays. They cover about 70 percent of care costs and potentially more, if you come from a lower-income household and qualify for cost-sharing reductions — a subsidy only available through Silver plans.
  • Gold plans have higher monthly premiums, lower deductibles and copays, and cover roughly 80 percent of care costs. These plans are intended for those with medical conditions that require ongoing attention.
  • Catastrophic plans are available to Coloradans under 30. They offer a low monthly premium, a very high deductible and exist to protect customers in worst-case scenarios.

    Connect for Health Colorado’s website offers tips for choosing the plan that’s right for you. Use the Quick Cost & Plan Finder tool to estimate costs and benefits and check if you may qualify for financial assistance before applying. 

Who is eligible for financial assistance for premiums?

The federal government increased tax credits for insurance premiums in 2021 and expanded the number of households that qualify for them. As a result, most people enrolled in ACA marketplace plans have seen their premiums go down. This expanded financial assistance is available through 2025.

  • If your annual income is below 150 percent of the federal poverty limit ($21,870 in 2024 for an individual and $45,000 for a family of four), you may be eligible for zero-premium coverage, depending on the plan you choose.
  • If your income is between 150 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (up to $58,320 for an individual and $78,880 for a couple) you are eligible for a premium subsidy. The amount depends on your income and your plan.
  • If your income exceeds the above limits, you can still get a premium subsidy if your monthly charge for the most popular Silver plan would be more than 8.5 percent of your income. 

If you’re eligible, Connect for Health Colorado will automatically apply the credits when you enroll.

Is there any other financial assistance available?

Yes. If you qualify for a premium tax credit, you may also qualify for a cost-sharing reduction that would help you pay for such out-of-pocket expenses as deductibles, prescriptions and copays. You must enroll in a Silver plan to get this assistance.

Connect for Health Colorado offers additional cost-sharing reductions through a state-funded program. People with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($36,450 for a single person and $75,000 for a family of four) are eligible for a 94 percent cost-sharing reduction, meaning your insurance company will pay for 94 percent of all medical costs, on average.

The savings will be applied automatically when you enroll in a Silver plan through the marketplace. Visit the marketplace website for more information.

What if I already have health insurance?

If you already have affordable coverage — through your employer or Health First Colorado (Medicaid), for example — you most likely will not qualify for financial help offered through the marketplace plans. More information about who’s ineligible for Connect for Health Colorado coverage is on the marketplace website.

If you’re independently enrolled in a private health insurance plan, not through an employer, you may qualify for significant savings if you switch to a Connect for Health Colorado plan. But you may need to wait until open enrollment begins.

If you were receiving temporary continuation of your health care coverage under COBRA and that coverage has ended, you may be able to sign up for a Connect for Health Colorado plan during a 60-day special enrollment window. Try to apply and select your plan through Connect for Health Colorado before your COBRA coverage ends to make sure there’s no gap in coverage.

If you already have a marketplace plan and want to adjust your coverage, you'll need to do so during open enrollment, unless you experience a qualifying life event.

Will I need to get a new doctor?

That depends. Connect for Health Colorado offers plans from a variety of insurance providers, but insurance companies may have different networks of doctors or providers for different plans. Before you select a plan, you may want to check its provider network to see if your doctor is included. You can also talk with your primary care physician or use the quick cost & plan finder tool to see whether a certain doctor or practice will accept a marketplace plan.

Will my family members qualify for the same health plan that I do?

It depends. Some family members may qualify for subsidies to enroll in a private health insurance plan while other family members qualify for public plans like Health First Colorado (Medicaid) or CHP+. Family members in the same household may qualify for different programs because of their age, income, disability, caregiver status or immigration status. Such families may still be able to see the same doctor or go to the same medical practice, depending on the types of insurance plans accepted or whether their provider accepts Medicaid coverage.

If you're not sure what makes the most sense for your family, get free advice from a certified insurance broker or assister.

This guide was updated on Nov. 3, 2024, with information about 2024 open enrollment.

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