Blair Miller, Denver7

DENVER – The 16 health insurance companies operating in Colorado have requested average premium increases of 5.9 percent for individual plans and 7.2 percent for small group plans for 2019, the Colorado Division of Insurance announced Friday.

In total, 16 companies will be offering plans in Colorado in 2019 and there will be a total of 808 different plans offered: 252 on the individual marketplace and 556 on the small group marketplace.

The rate hikes would be much less steep than they were this year. Individual market plans jumped by an average of 34 percent from 2017 to 2018—a number boosted when President Donald Trump decided to stop making cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies.

The DOI will now review the premium rates requested by the insurers to be sure they’re in compliance with the Affordable Care Act and state laws and justified for Colorado insurance consumers.

The public can file formal complaints about the plans through Aug. 3 before the DOI releases the approved plans and premiums for next year later this summer. It will then host a public meeting to discuss the new plans.

Adam Fox, the director of strategic engagement for liberal health care watchdog Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, said he was pleased that rates seem to be stabilizing despite uncertainty on the federal level.

“For a change, most Coloradans aren’t facing massive hikes in their health insurance premiums for next year. This really shows the strength of the Affordable Care Act, that despite ongoing GOP sabotage, Colorado’s insurance premiums are more stable this year,” Fox said.

The new rate requests come on the heels of a new report from the nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute that shows that for the first time ever in 2017, fewer than half of Coloradans obtained their health insurance through their employer as more people receive health insurance coverage through Medicaid, Medicare or the individual market.

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