Enrollment in Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+ – Colorado’s CHIP Program) continued to drop throughout 2019. Enrollment in Health First Colorado’s in non-disability programs (i.e. Modified Adjusted Gross Income, or MAGI programs) and CHP+ decreased by 56,282, or 4.9 percent, in 2019.

In 2019, the total number of adults, pregnant adults, and children enrolled in Health First Colorado MAGI programs decreased by 51,495 or 4.8 percent. The total number of children and pregnant adults enrolled in CHP+ decreased by 4,887 or 6.1 percent.

While the amounts of decrease differed per quarter, in the end, the programs experienced similar enrollment decreases in 2018 and 2019, with -4.7 percent and -4.9 percent decreases, respectively.

[Additional details and graphs are available in CKF’s 2019 Health First Colorado and CHP+ Enrollment Analysis– Year in Review]

There are a few reasons for the decrease:

Political Effects: Confusion and fear around the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule created a ‘chilling effect’ on enrollment. This likely persuaded many lawful immigrants and their families to not enroll or disenroll in Health First Colorado. [More information on public charge is available here]

Economic Effects: Colorado’s economy is strong, and more members may be losing eligibility due to increasing family incomes. However, if this was the case CHP+ enrollment would likely rise or stay steady from families moving from Health First Colorado to CHP+ . Since enrollment in both programs is decreasing, this is likely not the main factor.

System Effects: Changes to the enrollment system, such as a new returned mail policy, and the CBMS Transformation project, likely worsened counties’ backlogs for processing new applications and verifications.

Looking to the Future:

We will continue to monitor the situation – please reach out to Shoshi Preuss with any comments or questions on this post or the drop in enrollment.