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Colorado State Publications Blog

Tips for Flying Drones in Colorado

Whether for fun or for business, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, are a hot new tool that’s growing in popularity. But before you set your drone in flight, you should be aware of safety precautions, laws and regulations, and insurance information.

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s website contains a helpful webpage, Fly UAS Responsibly. Here you’ll find tips, resources and FAQs for all types of users, including recreational and commercial, as well as tips and information for airport personnel.

Drone users should have insurance. If your drone crashes into someone’s home, you are responsible, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance. Check out these five tips from the Division about how to get your drone covered.

Situations may differ depending on where you’re flying your drone. You can find helpful tips from the Colorado Department of Agriculture in their video Flying Drones in Rural Areas.

For a summary of state laws and regulations on UAS, see the Colorado Legislative Council’s Issue Briefs on Unmanned Aircraft System Regulation and Drone Use and Regulation in the Public Sector Finally, see these safety tips from the Colorado Department of Public Safety. You can also learn more about drones at Colorado State University’s Drone Center.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Understanding Health Insurance

Open enrollment for individual insurance plans is coming up in November, and many employers also conduct open enrollment during the fall. Whichever type of plan you are enrolling in, it helps to know your options. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) has some helpful information on their website, including Key Health Insurance Definitions, newly updated for this plan year. On their site you can also review approved plans, understand Essential Health Benefits under the Affordable Care Act, learn about Medicare, research health costs, and find out whether short-term or long term plans are best for you. You can also find many helpful publications available from our library, including

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Is Your House on Shaky Ground?

Ground subsidence problems are very real in Colorado. Whether from naturally occurring elements in the soil or from the effects of Colorado’s mining history, the ground in certain parts of Colorado is susceptible to settling, collapsing, expanding, heaving, or swelling, all of which can have potentially hazardous effects on structures. So how do you know if your area is affected by subsidence and swelling soils? And if it is, what should you do?
When the Ground Lets You Down, a title in the Colorado Geological Survey’s popular Rock Talk series, provides an excellent introduction to these types of hazards. The geological processes are illustrated in simple diagrams and information is provided about insurance, emergency situations, and where to go for help.
Another helpful publication, produced especially for homeowners, is A Guide to Swelling Soils for Colorado Homebuyers and Homeowners. This helpful guidebook can be checked out from our library or through Prospector. 
Additional helpful resources available from our library include:

Also, search the term “geologic hazards” in our library’s online catalog for additional resources.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Health First Colorado Member Information

If you are one of the 1,276,946 members of Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid program, there are many resources available online to help you understand your benefits and services under the program. For an overview, see the Member Handbook, available in both English and Spanish. You can also view a benefits and services chart and FAQs, and visit their page for contact information and where to get help. The Health First website also includes a series of videos which cover topics such as teen depression screening; substance use disorder benefits; and how to keep your information up to date. On this page you can also subscribe to the Health First e-newsletter.

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), which administers the Health First program, has a variety of other resources on their website to help you navigate the program. If you’re searching for a provider, they offer a Find a Doctor database on their website.

Colorado’s Medicaid program turns 50 years old this year. Learn more about Medicaid in Colorado, including statistical information, on HCPF’s Fifty Facts webpage. For more detailed statistics on enrollment, see the Medicaid Client Caseload by County monthly statistical summaries or view HCPF’s annual report.

Finally, you can go to HCPF’s website to download a mobile app for managing your benefits.

Health First Colorado

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+)

Depending on federal budget actions, the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), a low-cost health plan for qualifying children and pregnant women, could be eliminated.  This month the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee approved short-term funding that extends CHP+ at least until the end of February.  The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which administers the program, has set up a Future of CHP+ webpage that includes updated information as well as FAQs.  If you are a member of CHP+ or are considering enrollment, be sure to check this page often for updates.

The CHP+ program has been available to Coloradans for the last twenty years.  Search “child health plan plus” in our library’s online catalog for hundreds of reports on the program, including monthly and quarterly statistics; annual reports; various analysis reports; member benefits information; statutorily required reports; and much more.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

New Laws in Effect January 1

On New Year’s Day several new laws, passed during the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions, went into effect.  The new laws are:

The 2018 legislative session will begin on Wednesday, January 10.

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Colorado Medicaid is now Health First Colorado

    Medicaid in Colorado has a new name — Health First Colorado.  The name change was implemented in part to help eliminate confusion between Medicaid and Medicare.  Medicaid is still the name of the federal program, however.  Medicaid is one of the largest chunks of the Colorado state budget, so this name change will affect many people.  The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which oversees the state’s Medicaid program, is conducting a large-scale advertising campaign that will alert Coloradans to the name change via radio, online, and bus stop/transit ads.  For more information on the name change, as well as membership and other information related to the program in Colorado, visit www.healthfirstcolorado.com.

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Winter Weather and Insurance

    Three days after the coming of spring, Colorado returned to winter today with a major blizzard.  If you find yourself needing to make an insurance claim, whether it be from an auto accident, a personal injury, or damage to your home, be sure to read the Colorado Division of Insurance’s Winter Mishaps and Your Insurance.  Here you can find helpful tips as well as resources such as free smartphone apps.  See also the Division’s brochure Winter Weather and Insurance, available online from our library.

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Helpful Videos on Health Insurance

    Under the Affordable Care Act many consumers are purchasing health insurance on their own.  If you’re new to the process, it can seem daunting.  The State of Colorado, however, has provided several helpful videos to help make the process easier.  Videos include “Shop and Compare,” “How Health Insurance Premiums are Determined,” “From Coverage to Care,” and “How Insurance Works.”  Also included are videos demonstrating the steps for how to apply for health insurance in Colorado, and how Medicaid clients can use the Colorado Affordable Care Collaborative.  These videos are all part of the website cohealthinfo.com, a State of Colorado website that provides consumer information regarding health insurance.  If you have questions, check out this handy website today. 

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Insurance Tips for Storm Damage

    Many of us received heavy rains and hail this weekend, potentially causing damage to roofs, cars, etc.  If you experienced damage to your property during the recent storms, the Colorado Division of Insurance has issued the following tips which you may find beneficial.


    Consumer Alert:  Five insurance tips for storm damage
    Division of Insurance can help with insurance and claims questions
    DENVER – Many Coloradans woke up Friday morning to the aftermath of severe storms and damage to their homes and property.  These events were only the latest reminder of the damage severe storms can bring. 

    The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), encourages consumers to “Take 5 to Get Wise” when handling insurance, claims and repairs in the wake of storm damage.      
    Five Tips for Dealing with Storm Damage and Insurance

    1. Start the claim process – Call your insurance company or agent and begin the claim process.  Contact DOI if you need the contact information for your company or agent. 
    2. Document / mitigate the damage – If the damage to your home is extensive, start taking photos of the property and documenting what was lost.  If the damage is repairable, mitigate further damage by placing tarps on roofs or boarding up windows. 
    3. Check contractors – Roofing contractors and other construction contractors will start door-to-door sales or phone solicitations.  As with other disasters, consumers need to be on the alert for predatory practices or promises that seem too good to be true.  Verify what your city or county requires concerning licensing or registration of contractors – make sure the contractor you work with is authorized to do business in your area. Do your homework, check references and preferably hire a local Colorado contractor. 
    4. Verify public adjusters – Public adjusters may also begin contacting you if you have suffered damage to your home.  You are not required to hire a public adjuster, but if you do, make sure he or she is licensed and reputable – check references.  If possible, hire a Colorado-based adjuster.  DOI licenses public adjusters and consumers can call the Division to verify a license.  Public adjusters work on behalf of a consumer and receive a negotiated commission based on the final payment of the claim.  They sign a contract with a consumer to assist in negotiating the consumer’s insurance claim.
    5. Contact DOI –While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, DOI can assist consumers with questions about insurance and the claims process.  Call the Division at 303-894-7490 or 1-800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area).

    Flood Insurance
    With heavy rains and other severe weather more likely in the warmer months, now is the time to consider flood insurance.  Many homeowners do not realize that their basic homeowners insurance does not include protection from flood damage.  Flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy. 
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federally subsidized program available to any property owner – homeowners, renters, condominium owners and associations – whether or not the property is in floodplain.  National Flood Insurance is sold through a private i
    nsurance agent selling it to a community that has joined NFIP.  Contact your insurance agent about buying flood insurance.  If you do not have an agent or your agent does not sell flood insurance, contact the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or go to www.floodsmart.gov to get the name of an agent in your area.

    Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period, after applying and paying the first premium, for the insurance to become effective.
    For more information, visit the Colorado Division of Insurance flood insurance webpage or the FEMA / NFIP website www.floodsmart.gov.
    Home Inventories
    Before any disaster strikes, consumers should recognize the value in creating a home inventory.  An inventory helps consumers in determining what’s been lost and in working with their insurance company.  DOI has developed a Home Inventory Checklist for download that is a good starting point.   
    In addition, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has created a smartphone app to help homeowners and renters develop a Home Inventory Checklist.  Find information on the app at www.naic.org, under the “Consumer Resources” tab.  

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Colorado Flood and Wildfire Awareness Week

    In 2013 Colorado experienced the twin disasters of wildfires and floods on an especially large scale.  Now, it is time to take the lessons learned from these disasters and prepare for this year, as summer — fire and flood season — is just a few months away.  Therefore, this week has been designated Colorado Flood and Wildfire Awareness Week.  Both the Colorado Office of Emergency Management and NOAA have prepared instructional resources for Colorado citizens to learn about preparing for floods and fires — click on the hyperlinks for information from each agency. 

    In addition, you can find a great deal of information on Colorado fires and floods in our library.  Search our web catalog for resources, including information on the 2013 fires and floods, such as the Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health Task Force Report, issued in September 2013.  Check back often, as new reports on the 2013 floods are being issued and will be cataloged by our library as they become available.

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    Replacing Important Papers

    Did you lose any of your important personal papers in the recent flooding?  If so, you may be scrambling to remember everything that needs to be replaced, as well as figuring out where to go to get replacements.  The Colorado Division of Emergency Management has addressed this problem by posting a list on their blog with websites and contact information for obtaining birth, death, and marriage certificates; mortgage, property, and insurance papers; adoption, immigration, and military records; financial information; passports; drivers licenses and vehicle records; and more.  Even if you were not affected by the recent flooding, this is helpful information to keep on hand in case any of your important documents are ever lost or destroyed.

    Please note, the list links to a federal government website for obtaining birth, death, and marriage certificates.  However, if the birth, death, marriage, or divorce occurred in Colorado, you can obtain these records from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment’s Vital Records Section.   

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    Get Ready for Health Insurance Changes

    Health insurance laws are changing January 1.  If you’re a Colorado resident with questions about the new laws, the State of Colorado has set up a new site, http://www.cohealthinfo.com/, that explains the new laws in easy-to-understand language and videos.  The site addresses the questions I have health insurance.  What do I need to know?  and I need health insurance.  What are my options?  The site also includes sections discussing health and wellness, health insurance fact vs. fiction, and a glossary and timeline.  This website is a valuable resource for helping Coloradans navigate the new Affordable Care Act laws and health insurance Marketplace options. 
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    How to Register for Disaster Assistance

    The Colorado Division of Emergency Management has made available this helpful guide to how to register with FEMA and SBA for disaster assistance following last week’s devastating floods.  Included here, you can find a list of what disaster aid will cover, as well as maps of disaster assistance centers.  The site also includes fact sheets on individual assistance’s sequence of delivery, ways to apply, and disaster loans.  FEMA assistance can help affected individuals with the cost of rent, home repairs, and other related costs.  FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can likewise assist affected businesses.

    Finally, if you still need assistance with disaster relief, visit your local library or contact an applicable state agency.  

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Home Inventory: Prepare for Disaster

     

    If a fire, flood, tornado, or other disaster destroyed your home, would you be able to report to the insurance company everything you lost?  Unless you have completed a home inventory, the answer is probably “no.”  Luckily, taking an inventory of the contents of your home can be easy, thanks to the Colorado Division of Insurance.  They have put together a helpful Home Inventory Checklist which you can use to go room by room through your home and note furniture, electronics, appliances, collectibles, artwork, kitchen items, and more.  For an even better home inventory, use the checklist to identify items, and then photograph them.  It’s an easy way to save yourself a great deal of stress later, should disaster ever strike.  For more information, see “Understanding the Value of Your Home and Its Contents” from the Colorado Division of Insurance.
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    Public vs. Private Health Insurance

    A new publication from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment’s Health Statistics Section, Public Versus Private Health Insurance in Colorado at a Glance, offers consumers a look at the various aspects of both types of health insurance.  Specifically, the publication gives the results of a study to “1)identify the proportion of the population reporting varying types of public versus private health insurance and 2) Examine selected risk factors and health outcomes for people who are uninsured, on public health insurance, or private health insurance.”  You can also find a great deal of information on this topic by visiting the Colorado Division of Insurance.

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    New Laws Effective January 1

    Five laws came into effect on January 1, 2012. Descriptions of the laws from the Digest of Bills are as follows:

    H.B. 11-1100 Military education, training, and service experience credit for license and certification The act requires the director of the division of registrations and the state examining and licensing boards to accept education, training, or service completed by an applicant for licensure or certification while serving in the military toward the qualifications required to receive the license or certification.

    H.B. 11-1146 Property tax – definition of agricultural land – exclusion of up to 2 acres of land associated with a residential improvement unless residence integral to agricultural operation on the land – satisfaction of TABOR. The act amends the existing statutory definition of agricultural land for purposes of property tax to exclude up to 2 acres of land associated with a residential improvement located on such agricultural land unless the residence is integral to an agricultural operation conducted on the land.

    A residential improvement is deemed to be “integral to an agricultural operation” if an individual occupying the residential improvement either regularly conducts, supervises, or administers material aspects of the agricultural operation or is the spouse or a parent, grandparent, sibling, or child of the individual.

    In the case of a district that has not obtained voter approval to retain and spend revenues in excess of the fiscal year spending and property tax revenue limits imposed on the district by TABOR sufficient to allow the retention of all additional property tax revenues and that has determined that the modification of the definition of “agricultural land” will cause a net property tax revenue gain to the district sufficient to cause the district to exceed such limits, the district is permitted to place before the voters of the district at an appropriate election the question of whether the district may retain and spend revenues in excess of the limits imposed on the district by TABOR sufficient to allow the retention of the net property tax revenue gain. If a majority of the voters of the district fail to approve the ballot issue, or if no ballot issue has been submitted to the voters, the district is required to adjust the number of mills levied by the district to eliminate any net property tax revenue gain to the district resulting from the modification of the definition of “agricultural land”.

    Any person who objects to the application of the term “integral to an agricultural
    operation” to their property and whose objections or protests have been denied by the county
    assessor to submit a petition for appeal to the county board of equalization.

    H.B. 11-1186 Health insurance – reimbursement of providers – acupuncturists. Currently, when an insurance policy or plan provides for reimbursement for services performed by certain health care providers licensed to perform the services, a health insurance carrier cannot deny reimbursement when the services are performed. The act adds licensed acupuncturists to the list of health care providers that cannot be denied reimbursement.

    S.B. 11-034 Child abuse and neglect – mandatory reporters – W.I.C. educators. The act adds educators who provide services through a federal special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children (W.I.C. educators) to the list of persons required to report child abuse or neglect.

    S.B. 11-040 Health – youth athletic activities – concussion management – coach required education. The act creates the “Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act”. Each public and private middle school, junior high school, or high school and each private club or recreation facility is directed to require each coach with primary supervisory responsibility for a youthathletic activity to complete an annual concussion recognition education course. The education course must include:

    • Information on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion;
    • The means of obtaining proper medical attention for a person suspected of having a concussion; and
    • Information on the nature and risk of concussions.

    If the coach suspects that a youth athlete has sustained a concussion, the coach must immediately remove the youth athlete from a game, competition, or practice. Unless the signs or symptoms of a concussion can be readily explained by another condition, the youth athlete is not permitted to return to any supervised team activities involving physical exertion, including games, competitions, or practices, unless the youth athlete has been evaluated by a health care provider and has received written clearance to return to play from the health care provider.

    A doctor of chiropractic with training and specialization in concussion evaluation and management is allowed to evaluate and provide clearance to return to play for an athlete who is part of the United States olympic training program. A registered athletic trainer may be permitted to manage the graduated return to play after the concussed athlete has received clearance to return to play from a health care provider.

    The act does not abrogate or limit the existing immunities that apply to public entities and public employees, volunteers and board members, and ski operators. A youth athletic activity includes an organized athletic activity where the majority of the participants are 11 years of age or older and under 19 years of age.

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    Medicare 101

    Attention Seniors: The Colorado Dept. of Regulatory Agencies is going to be holding a public webinar on January 25, 2012, called “Medicare 101.” (Click here to sign up – space is limited). This online presentation will give you helpful tips and information, whether for those just starting Medicare, or those who are already receiving Medicare but have questions. Please note, that if need more information and would like to speak to someone, call the Department’s Medicare consumer information line, 1-888-696-7213.

    If you can’t participate in the webinar, our library has many publications that can assist you. Some of the helpful publications on Medicare that we have available in our library include Your Medicare Matters, Protect It!; Medicare Drug Insurance and You: Colorado Options 2012; The Big Picture: Medicare and Related Health Insurance; Managing Your Medicare Bills; and Help for Medicare Beneficiaries with Lower Incomes.

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Consumer Resource on Insurance

    In 2008, the Legislature passed HB 1385, which required a consumer guide to insurance be published on the web. The result of this legislation is How to Choose Insurance that is Right for You: A Guide for Colorado Consumers. This guide helps consumers choose from all types of insurance, including health, auto, home, life, and title. The site also provides information on filing complaints, enforcement, insurance laws, finding an agent, and more. Check this handy resource next time you are shopping for insurance.

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    Colorado State Publications Blog

    Pinnacol Assurance

    As the legislature struggles to balance the budget in these difficult economic times, they have started to look toward the State’s workers’ compensation fund, Pinnacol Assurance. A Joint Budget Committee bill, SB09-273, would, if passed, change the laws “to allow the State to make use of certain funds authorized by statute to be collected by Pinnacol Assurance, and…augmenting state revenues by requiring the transmittal of certain surplus funds of Pinnacol Assurance to the State Treasury…” The State has long been keeping watch over Pinnacol, frequently auditing the company. For more information on Pinnacol’s financial situation, see their most recent financial statements, available both online and in print from our library. Previous years’ financial statements are also available. Visit our library or, for online reports, visit the State Auditor’s website.

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    Flood plains and you

    According to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Flood Protection Program web site, there are estimated to be 65,000 homes and 15,000 commercial, industrial, and business structures in identified floodplains. There are likely many more structures located within unmapped flood hazard areas. To learn more about the Flood Protection Program go to their website and check out the Flood Preparedness Brochure.
    The Colorado State Publications Library has several studies performed by the Army Corps of Engineers of flood plains around the state. Checking out some of these could tell you if you live on a flood plain.
    If you think you live on a flood plain or wonder if you need flood insurance, you can go to the Division of Insurance’s website and check out the Flood Insurance brochure.