State Prepares for Half Million New Medicaid Members

Hide Featured Image

Enrollment Surge Prompted by Loss of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage


June 10, 2020

Media Contact
Marc Williams

Denver, CO - As thousands of Coloradans have lost their employer-sponsored health coverage during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (the Department) anticipates more than 500,000 Coloradans will enroll in Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in the coming months. The expected surge represents an increase of more than 40 percent from the 1.3 million Coloradans enrolled in Health First Colorado and CHP+ as of March 2020. By comparison, when Medicaid expansion occurred under the Affordable Care Act, enrollment rose by approximately 400,000 over a two-year period.

The drivers of this increase are two-fold. The first is the unemployment rate, which is now 11.3%, up from 2.5% in February - the highest since the state began tracking unemployment in 1976. As Coloradans lose their jobs due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, they often lose their employer-sponsored health coverage, as well.

The second driver of the projected enrollment increase is the impact of the federal public health emergency, which requires the Department to refrain from disenrolling members from Medicaid during the emergency period. When the public health emergency ends, the Department projects an estimated disenrollment of more than 300,000 members who do not meet eligibility criteria.

Health First Colorado and CHP+ are Colorado's public health insurance programs. Like private insurance plans, Health First Colorado and CHP+ offer coverage for preventive and wellness services, doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital care, maternity care and many other services.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes it that much more important for Coloradans who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage to find ways to stay covered. Coloradans who find themselves in this difficult circumstance should give Health First Colorado and CHP+ a close look, said Kim Bimestefer, executive director for the Department. Our programs will provide individuals and families with needed health care coverage and peace of mind during this economic downturn. We are here to help you, Colorado.

The only way for Coloradans to find out if they are eligible for either program is to apply. Coloradans can visit to learn more. Eligibility is based on many factors in addition to income, but generally, individuals who make less than $1,415 a month before taxes and families of four with income of less than $3,101 a month before taxes may qualify for Health First Colorado. Coloradans 18 and under, along with pregnant women who don't qualify for Health First Colorado, may qualify for CHP+. Individuals who make less than $2,765 a month before taxes and families of four with income of less than $5,677 a month before taxes may qualify for CHP+.

Coloradans can apply for health care coverage online any time - there is no open enrollment period, and about 75 percent of people who apply online find out immediately if their coverage is approved. You can also apply by phone, mail or at county offices.

Providers are encouraged to become part of Health First Colorado network to maintain their relationships with patients who may have lost their employer-sponsored coverage. Providers can learn more at

Please help us reach Coloradans in need of health coverage. We invite you to utilize the additional content and public service announcements available at

About the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing: The Department administers Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program), Child Health Plan Plus, and other programs for Coloradans who qualify. For more information about the Department, please visit