Delay for online tax credits extended

Posted on 23 October 2013.


By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

Customers trying to use an online system to qualify for federal tax credits through Colorado’s health exchange will have to wait at least until Nov. 4.

Managers at Connect for Health Colorado initially delayed the online feature until the end of October and in order to secure subsidies, customers have had to call clogged phone lines. Now, a spokesman said in a written response to questions that customers wanting to use the exchange website to cut their health insurance costs will have to wait until Nov. 4, the new target date for Colorado to have an online subsidy application. In the meantime, the only way to get subsidies is by phone at 1-855-PLANS-4-YOU or 1-855-752-6749.

Ben Davis, a spokesman for Connect for Health, also pledged that once the application for credits goes online, customers will be able to get tax rebates even through the federal website has failed to function since both federal and state exchanges launched on Oct. 1.

“We have a plan to connect with the federal data services hub for verification activities and, in cases where the connection is unavailable, to allow customers to continue with the application process,” Davis said.

He did not elaborate on what that plan is or how Colorado’s exchange specifically will allow customers to proceed with subsidy applications online when the federal data hub is down.

Davis insisted that problems with the federal system are not affecting Colorado.

“The federal marketplace is a completely separate system designed to provide health insurance in other states,” he wrote.

Colorado’s health exchange managers have repeatedly declined to conduct interviews about IT challenges with Managers overseeing the multi-million dollar exchange, which has been funded with public money, will only accept and respond to questions in writing. They also have declined requests to share the behind-the-scenes functions of Colorado’s exchange.

Both the federal and state exchanges have long been pitched to the public as Travelocity-style online marketplaces for health insurance where customers could buy completely online.

But, even in Colorado, where the exchange appears to be working better than the federal exchange, customers often have to spend 90 minutes or longer with health coverage guides or wait on hold to speak with customer service agents. The process has been anything but a seamless, quick, 100 percent online experience.

That could drive away some key customers: so-called “young invincibles,” healthy 20-somethings, many of whom prefer to do research and make purchases for everything from athletic shoes to college tuition online.

Delay for Online Tax Credits Extended | Health | Rocky Mountain PBS



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New School Year, New Fears for Many Kids

For most kids, the first day of school is generally not met with a lot of enthusiasm.

For some children, though, it’s a source of profound anxiety.

From fears about fitting in, bullying, school violence, academic pressures, and playing sports to attending a new school and facing unfamiliar challenges, a new school year can usher in a host of paralyzing fears.

And while adults often are unaware or dismissive of these anxieties, the fears are very real – and can be debilitating or even fatal.
Depression affects as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents, according to the federal Center for Mental Health Services. And suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States among 15-24 year-olds.

In fact, Colorado conducted a Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2005. The results were alarming: Twenty-five percent of the students reported feeling depressed, sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row at some point in the past year.

Even more startling, 14 percent seriously considered attempting suicide during that past 12 months. A staggering seven percent attempted suicide one or more times during the past 12 months. (Source: Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network)

So what can parents do?

  • Talk to your child about how he or she is feeling.
  • Educate yourself about depression. The more you know, the better the position you are in to help your child.
  • Know the signs of depression, and note the duration, frequency and severity of troubling behavior.
  • If your child is struggling with any combination of the signs of depression for more than two weeks in different settings (e.g., at home, at school, on the playground), consult a mental health professional or pediatrician.
  • Discuss all available treatment options with your child’s doctor, and carefully weigh all the risks and benefits associated with each treatment. A comprehensive treatment plan may include psychotherapy, ongoing evaluation and, in some cases, medication. You and your child, if possible, should fully participate in the development of a treatment plan.

  • Talk to other families in your community or find a family network organization to help you better understand how depression can affect your child and your entire family.

  • Know that treatment works and that your child will get better.

More resources

Information about children and depression from Mental Health America of Colorado

Backgrounders on children and mental health

Resources from the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

 Thanks to Scott R Thoemke, the executive director and chief executive officer of the
Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, who contributed to this article.

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