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photo of the Larimer Health Connect team pictured in back row left to right: Trudy Herman, Roy Ramirez, Ana Montufar, Monirah Greenfield, Brooke Cowden, and Rache Larson. Pictured in the front row left to right: Mylinh Han, Rosie Duran, and Amingita Mitchell.

Committed to health-care access

by Julie Estlick

The Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) program in Colorado was made possible by federal legislation signed into law in 1997. It sought to provide health coverage to children and pregnant women from lower-income households who did not qualify for Medicaid (the joint federal and state program that helps cover health costs for those with limited income).

At first, many families were unaware CHP+ existed or had difficulty signing up for it, or for Medicaid. And so was born the Health District’s Medicaid-CHP+ Outreach Project that raised local awareness of these low-cost health insurance programs and helped with enrollment, with staff even traveling to people’s homes to assist with the paperwork.

After the Affordable Care Act was passed, providing expanded low-cost coverage options for even more people, the Health District in 2013 established Larimer Health Connect, a program that helps individuals and families find coverage that meets their needs and budget. Prescription Assistance, one of the Health District’s longest-running services, was eventually incorporated into Larimer Health Connect.

Program staff are trained Certified Health Coverage Guides. They provide impartial in-person assistance comparing plan options on Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health insurance marketplace, and helping with enrollment. They also assist with enrollment or renewal of Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid program) and CHP+ coverage for those who qualify, as well as helping seniors (65 and up) enroll in Medicare.

In 2023, Larimer Health Connect staff served 1,908 clients. They also helped some of the thousands of northern Coloradans who were at risk of losing their Medicaid benefits when the continuous coverage provided during the COVID-19 pandemic ended and eligibility reviews returned. Staff provided renewal assistance and helped people research their options on the marketplace, including available tax credits and cost-sharing for some plans.

In addition, guides worked with individuals who qualified for OmniSalud, a new statewide program that provides undocumented Coloradans affordable insurance plans without having to share sensitive information about immigration status.

Longtime employee Rosie Duran has witnessed first-hand the Health District’s commitment to health insurance access and one-on-one assistance, and what these services have meant for residents in northern Colorado. Duran started with the Medicaid-CHP+ Outreach Project in 2001 and now oversees Larimer Health Connect as the health-care access manager.

“Our guides are knowledgeable and experienced, and we do our best to help clients find health insurance coverage — because life happens and medical costs can add up quickly and can really impact your life,” she says.

Health insurance education is also a focus of the program. Events are often held at libraries and other public spaces where staff explain insurance terms, answer questions, and make it less intimidating to get covered and stay covered.

Larimer Health Connect provides appointments by phone, online, and in person all year, not just during Open Enrollment periods. For more information or to set up an appointment, call 970-472-0444 or go to