The Colorado Option: Frequently asked questions and what small businesses need to know

The Colorado Option was established by the Colorado Legislature to give the Division of Insurance the ability to develop standard benefit plans. This allows small businesses to easily compare and choose the plan that is right for them through the individual and small group marketplace. 

Small business advocates and small business owners, including Small Business Majority and network members, advocated in support of passing this groundbreaking legislation. Small businesses have always been supportive of making healthcare more accessible and affordable for all. In fact, a Small Business Majority survey found that one-third of Colorado small business owners wanted policymakers to prioritize bringing down the cost of healthcare during the 2022 legislative session.                 

Now through the Colorado Option, the standardized plans cover all essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and are designed to reduce racial health disparities and improve health equity for Coloradans and small businesses.

Who qualifies for the Colorado Option?

The Colorado Option is available to all Coloradans who buy their health insurance on the individual marketplace e.g., not from an employer and the small group marketplace (small employers with 0 to 99 employees).

What are the benefits of participating in the Colorado Option for small businesses?

  • Health insurance companies are required to lower premiums of Colorado Option health insurance plans, which will make access to healthcare more affordable and accessible for small business owners. Health insurers will lower such premiums and must adhere to this baseline and adjust for inflation, as follows:
    • By 2023, health insurers must comply with a premium reduction of 5%.
    • By 2024, health insurers must comply with a premium reduction of 10%.
    • By 2025, health insurers must comply with a premium reduction of 15%.
  • With Colorado Option standardized plans, small business owners and their employees will be able to easily compare plans and focus on quality, network and price because all standardized plans have the same benefit design.
  • Small businesses that enroll in the Colorado Option plans will have access to free primary care and mental health office visits, free prenatal and post-pregnancy visits, free diabetic supplies and predictable costs, providing more peace of mind for business owners and their employees when they seek the care they need.

How can Colorado’s small employers and their employees participate?

  • All health insurance companies in the individual market sell Colorado Option plans. 
    • Colorado Option plans will have a dual logo and “Colorado Option” in the plan name.
  • In the small group market, the companies that offer Colorado Option plans are Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente.
    • Connect4Health Colorado has certified experts and brokers that will provide small employers and their employees with free information about plan options. 
  • The open enrollment period starts on November 1, 2023, but may differ for small employers.

Is the Colorado Option a public option?

No, it is not. The Colorado Option standardized plans are designed by the Colorado Division of Insurance, but the insurance carriers sell the plans through their own entities. 

What if my broker didn't share information with me about the Colorado Option?

Please reach out to Lindsey Vigoda, our Colorado Director, to share your experience. Lindsey is raising awareness about this issue to the Division of Insurance and Connect4Health Colorado.

Is it true that the Colorado Option is facing a lawsuit?

No, these claims are false.

What if I don’t have legal status?

Small employers without proper documentation can access healthcare coverage and financial assistance through the OmniSalud program. Individuals eligible for OmniSalud can access a plan on Colorado Connect. 

  • Those with incomes below a certain poverty level qualify for SilverEnhanced Savings, which makes healthcare coverage more affordable. Those who qualify for SilverEnhanced Savings can receive their plan for $0 per month:
    • Income up to $1,699/month for individuals.
    • Income up to $2,289/month for a family of 2.
    • Income up to $2,879/month for a family of 3.
    • Income up to $3,469/month for a family of 4.

Where can I find more information about the Colorado Option?

  • Reach out to our Colorado Director Lindsey Vigoda via email at [email protected].
  • Access the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative’s healthcare glossary to better understand health insurance terms.
  • Want to better understand affordable health insurance for immigrant employers? Access the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and Servicios de la Raza’s infographic.