October 1st has been a much-anticipated date for months as healthcare reform brings new insurance options to citizens. People who have been excluded from health coverage due to finances, pre-existing conditions, and a myriad of other obstacles now have a shot at shopping for a plan they can afford and actually use.

Colorado HealthOP is a non-profit, member-governed cooperative health insurer entering the scene of the state’s marketplace. As the entire country is talking today about getting covered, Julia Hutchins – CEO of Colorado HealthOP – takes that message to a far more local level in the Get Covered Colorado campaign. We sat down with Julia to ask her about this latest mission and what it can mean for Colorado.

Q:  “Get Covered Colorado” seems to build on connected efforts by other states, as well as the government, to get people insured. How is Colorado HealthOP’s campaign bringing these efforts to the next level?

“We’ve known from the beginning historic changes to health insurance are coming (and are now here!), and it’s critical to spread the word. As a Colorado company, we’re aiming to improve health in communities across Colorado, and that means supplementing existing community efforts to get Coloradans covered.

As a company, we’re also building partnerships with other healthcare advocacy groups to expand on efforts to get people covered in Colorado. This includes a heavy use of social media and on-the-ground efforts.

As an added push, we’re taking our expertise on health insurance and health care reform on the road, bringing our message to parts of the state other campaigns might not reach. To that end, we can actually help people get covered on the spot with affordable, quality health insurance that puts them in charge of their health.”

Q:  Colorado is a large state with very diverse populations. How do you and Colorado HealthOP plan to get the word out to “Get Covered, Colorado?”

“As the CEO, I’m planning a road trip across the state starting this month. Our rural outreach team is also giving presentations in eastern Colorado, and we’ll put a street team into play in the Denver metro to populate high-traffic areas to educate people about what’s happening in healthcare and how to get covered. Through a series of communications to address the diverse needs of the state, we’re contracting with safety-net providers and Navigators who will help the uninsured get covered.”

Q:  Talk about the overall push to get ready for open enrollment (starting today, Oct. 1st). What have been the top priorities for Colorado HealthOP to get ready to insure Coloradans?

“It’s been a journey! We’ve built – and are building – a health insurance company from the ground up that is member driven. We want to ensure we are providing high-quality, affordable benefits that reward you for taking healthy actions and are set up to provide excellent customer service.  We’ve also pushed to get the word out about our co-op structure, what we offer, and of course how to enroll.”

Q:  Julia, you’ve been very visible and vocal in the press talking about Colorado HealthOP and how it’s different. For those who haven’t heard about this particular insurance company, what’s the biggest takeaway?

“Colorado HealthOP is a non-profit health insurance CO-OP that is turning healthcare upside down. We put our members in charge and offer insurance designed to make members healthy in the long term. Ultimately, our mission is to advance health in Colorado.”

Colorado HealthOP’s campaign, Get Covered Colorado, can be followed at the hashtag #GetCoveredCO.