Steamboat Springs business, health care leaders continue educational workshops on Affordable Care Act | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs business, health care leaders continue educational workshops on Affordable Care Act

Erin Gleason, of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, leads an informational workshop on the new Colorado health insurance exchange.

— Local health care and business leaders on Friday afternoon continued the long process of educating Steamboat residents on the complexities and impacts of the Affordable Care Act.

While the last major health care workshop here last month looked at the challenges Obamacare is facing from a national level, Friday’s presentation had more of a local flavor and was attended by several small business owners.

Bill Crosby, an insurance broker with Steamboat Select Insurance, talked about the choices small employers here face in the new health insurance exchange.

He said the exchange is the only way to qualify for a small business tax credit that could subsidize 50 percent of the cost for offering a group plan.

The amount of the subsidy depends on the average wages of the employees.

"You are not required to offer group coverage," he told employers with less than 50 workers. "However, we find that many businesses choose to do so regardless."

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Friday’s workshop was the second installment of a three-part series organized by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank and Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Erin Gleason, a community and small-business insurance coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, kicked things off by giving a detailed overview of the new health insurance marketplace and reminding attendees of the upcoming Dec. 23 deadline to purchase health insurance so that it can go into effect Jan. 1.

The VNA and YVMC are offering two more open enrollment sessions before that deadline to help people navigate the new marketplace.

Before the presentations started, residents here talked among one another about how they still were finding it hard to grasp all of the changes in health care.

Residents in this mountain resort community also face higher premiums on the marketplace than people shopping on the Front Range.

However, susbsidies can help narrow that gap, a recent study found.

Western Slope Outreach Coordinator Linda Gann, of Connect for Health Colorado, wrapped things up with a look at the history of health care reform in the United States dating back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration.

She said as of last week, more than 15,000 people had purchased insurance through the new state health exchange.

She said the rocky roll out of the federal health exchange could have had a negative impact on the roll out here in the state.

"We’re doing OK," she said. "We’re not doing as well as we wanted to be doing."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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