By Liesl Greathouse

MONTROSE–For people interested in a one-stop-shop for looking into insurance options, there will be  Get Covered Montrose-An Informational Insurance Fair on Oct. 25, from 9 a.m.-Noon at the Old City Council Chambers off Centennial Plaza, 422 S. 1st Street in Montrose. Get Covered Montrose will help to guide people to find the appropriate health coverage.

“Whether it be making an appointment to sign-up for a plan during Open Enrollment through Connect for Health Colorado, enrolling in Medicaid or CHP+, or obtaining assistance with Medicare coverage, the insurance fair will provide it all,” said Alicia Plantz, with the Montrose Connect for Health Office.  “No matter which of these programs an individual might be eligible for, they will be able to find it during Get Covered Montrose.” The event is for all Western Slope residents, whether they are uninsured, under insured, self-employed, or do not have access to affordable employer insurance.  The fair is free and open to the public, and will be the place for people to get the information they need to sign-up for health coverage. Representatives from Connect for Health Colorado, Watson Insurance, Tri-County Health and River Valley Family Health Center, Health and Human Services, and RSVP will be present to answer questions and schedule upcoming appointments.  “It’s important to get the right information so you can cover yourself correctly,” Plantz said.

Along with 17 other states and the District of Columbia, Colorado has created its own, unique health care exchange/marketplace. Colorado’s marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, is a non-profit, competitive marketplace where customers can easily compare and sort plans while determining eligibility to receive generous financial assistance to help reduce the cost of health insurance. This online marketplace is the only place where individuals and small businesses can fill out one application to view all available plans and receive premium tax subsidies. This event is important for people to find out what to expect for the upcoming Open Enrollment through Connect for Health Colorado.

“We want the Western Slope to know that Connect for Health Colorado is gearing up for Open Enrollment, which will be from Nov. 15-Feb. 15,” Plantz explained.  “Local, non-profit assistance sites are now open to answer questions and help with enrollments. Health Coverage Guides are available to assist with applications for financial assistance and all services are free of charge. Assistance sites are located in Telluride, Ouray, Montrose, Delta, and Hotchkiss.” For Plantz, there are three things that she wants to highlight about Connect for Health Colorado and the new laws:  “First, all services provided by Connect for Health Colorado’s assistance sites are free,” she said.  “Secondly, individuals and families can only enroll in a health plan, and take advantage of the generous financial assistance if applicable, during open enrollment-which is Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015.  After that the Marketplace will be closed and customers will not be able to enroll, unless they experience a life change event, until next year.  Thirdly, the law now requires all individuals to have certified health coverage for 9 months out of the year or they will receive a penalty on their tax return. The fee will be $95 per adult and $47 per child, or 1% of household income, whichever is greater. In 2015 the fee will increase, reaching $325 per adult and $162 per child, or 2.5% of household income, whichever is greater.  Get Covered!” For more information, contact Alicia Plantz at 252-0660 or visit