Newsmakers April 18-May 1: Thousands in area face ACA penalties

April estimates by the Colorado Health Institute showed that more than 58,000 people in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld Counties would likely remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act, and thousands would be subject to penalties.

The Colorado Health Institute’s figures showed that by 2016, about 6.4 percent of Larimer County, 7.4 percent of Weld County, 6.6 percent of Boulder County and 4.7 percent of Broomfield County would be uninsured, though not all would be subject to penalties.

The penalties for remaining uninsured under the ACA are significant. In 2014, an uninsured Colorado family of four paid a maximum fee of $285 or 1 percent of income, whichever was greater. The penalties escalate in subsequent years, topping out in 2017, when the same family would pay a maximum fee of more than $2,000 or 2.5 percent of income. After that, the penalties will be adjusted for inflation annually.

The penalties for 2014 will be enforced when taxpayers file their 2014 tax returns at the beginning of 2015.

Pinning down exactly how many people in Colorado are uninsured is difficult. But an October 2013 survey by the Colorado Health Institute estimated about 640,000 working age Coloradans were without health insurance. That’s about 19.6 percent of the population. However, not all are subject to penalties due to various exemptions under the ACA, and one economist estimated that 78 percent of those who remained uninsured after the ACA rollout in Colorado would be able to avoid the penalties.

UPDATE

An August Gallup poll showed that Colorado had enjoyed the fifth-largest percentage drop in uninsured rates nationwide since the ACA rollout, dropping from 17 percent in 2013 to 11 percent in 2014.

Colorado Health Institute senior director of operations and communications Deb Goeken said her organization is working on a project to update its projections of how many Coloradans will remain uninsured by 2016.

She said the April numbers were compiled early in the ACA rollout with the best available data then. But with the first year of the ACA in the rearview, she said her organization is hoping to have some better estimates in about a month.

As for the state’s health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, that organization reported 24,800 health-plan enrollments through the first month of open enrollment, which began Nov. 15. That’s compared to 12,700 health-plan enrollments through the first month last year.

Of the 24,800 people who signed up, one third are customers new to the exchange. The remaining two thirds have re-enrolled for coverage for next year.

Reporter Joshua Lindenstein contributed to this report.

April estimates by the Colorado Health Institute showed that more than 58,000 people in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld Counties would likely remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act, and thousands would be subject to penalties.

The Colorado Health Institute’s figures showed that by 2016, about 6.4 percent of Larimer County, 7.4 percent of Weld County, 6.6 percent of Boulder County and 4.7 percent of Broomfield County would be uninsured, though not all would be subject to penalties.

The penalties for remaining uninsured under the ACA are significant. In 2014, an uninsured Colorado family of four paid a maximum fee of $285 or 1 percent of income, whichever was greater. The penalties escalate in subsequent years, topping out in 2017, when the same family would pay a maximum fee of more than $2,000 or 2.5 percent of income. After that, the penalties will be adjusted for inflation annually.

The penalties for 2014 will be enforced when taxpayers file their 2014 tax returns at the beginning of 2015.

Pinning down exactly how many people in Colorado are uninsured is difficult. But an October 2013 survey by the Colorado Health Institute estimated about 640,000 working age Coloradans were without health insurance. That’s about 19.6 percent of the population. However, not all are subject to penalties due to various exemptions under the ACA, and one economist…