Dept. of Insurance reports stable coverage environment

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Colorado’s small group insurance program is relatively stable – with 21 companies providing insurance to small businesses.

That’s the 2008 report from the Division of Insurance, which shows a 7 percent, or about 25,000 fewer people, reduction in coverage between 2007 and 2008.

Despite the economic downturn, the drop isn’t the most dramatic during recent years. Between 2000 and 2002, there was a 23 percent drop in coverage.

“Given the economic reality at the end of 2008, this reduction in small group covered lives and groups isn’t surprising,” said Marcy Morrison, state insurance commissioner.

The report provides a snapshot of the number of people insured as of a certain date. The division does not know if the people no longer covered in the small group market have coverage in some other market.

The top 10 small group carriers are United Healthcare, Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, Rocky Mountain HMO, Humana Insurance Co., Aetna Life Insurance Co., Rocky Mountain Healthcare Options, PacifiCare Life Assurance Company, Humana Health Plan and HMO Colorado.

Free cancer screenings

Colorado’s unemployment rate is at a 21-year high, but that doesn’t mean women without insurance have to skip important cancer screenings.

Women’s Wellness Connection is expanding its free breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings at more than 120 provider locations.

To be eligible, women must:

Be ages 40 to 64

Be legal residents of the United States

Live in Colorado

Have limited or no insurance to pay for screenings

Earn less than $27,075 a year if single and $55,125 for a family of four.

Recessions take a toll on women’s health, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Forty-five percent of all women, and 58 percent of Hispanic women, have failed to seek medical care during the past year because the cost was too high.

“During hard economic times, women are more concerned with putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their families’ heads. As a result, many women neglect their own medical care, suffer from stress and adopt unhealthy behaviors,” said Sandra Mortensen, Women’s Wellness Connection program director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Being uninsured doesn’t mean you have to be uninformed. The best way to find cancer early is to get routine breast and cervical cancer screenings. In fact, 98 percent of women who find breast cancer early, and 92 percent of women who find cervical cancer early survive it.”

Women’s Wellness Connection served a record 13,228 women last year and expects to serve nearly 15,000 women during 2009.

For a list of free screening providers and to determine eligibility or to make an appointment, call (866) 951-9355 or visit www.womenswellnessconnection.org.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.