CO Health Insurance Rates Jump but Consumers Can Find Savings by Shopping
Affordability and lack of accountability from insurers and hospitals concern consumer advocates
DENVER – Today, the Colorado Division of Insurance approved rates for Colorado’s healthcare insurance companies. Initial rates filed at the beginning of the summer showed average increases of 11%, with rural consumers generally facing higher increases, and the final rate increases are only slightly lower, with average increases of 10.4% in the individual market and 7.4% in the small employer market. And this comes on the heels of news that Bright Health is leaving the market, which means some 55,000 Coloradans will need to change their insurance plan.
Of note, while many of the final approved rates are slightly lower by carrier than the initial filings earlier this summer, Friday Health Plans requested and were approved for the highest rate increases of 25.1% in the individual market with reinsurance, and 33.7% in the small employer market. The failure to meet reduction targets shows a continued lack of effort to meet targets or provide relief to consumers on rising coverage and health care costs, and places an enormous burden on small businesses enrolled with Friday.
“After several years of fairly stable health insurance prices, Colorado consumers are going to feel these increases, especially in the rural areas,” said Mannat Singh, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative executive director. “Insurers and hospitals are not making enough of an effort to meet the required reductions for some Colorado Option plans, but are instead setting a baseline for failing to hit the targets without reasonable justification.”
Colorado’s health insurance rates have not jumped in recent years, in part because the state’s reinsurance program has provided significant support in keeping insurance rates more than 20% lower than they would be. The Division of Insurance estimated that in 2023, consumers on the individual market across Colorado will save an average of 32.1% over what premiums would have been without reinsurance.
“Health insurance continues to be unaffordable for too many Coloradans, despite reinsurance moderating premium prices and additional plans being offered in more counties,” said Singh. “Premium rates must be reasonable and justified – the industry shouldn’t use the ongoing pandemic or inflation to hike company profits.”
Colorado Option plans will be offered for the first time next year. These new plans offer a standard set of benefits with set out-of-pocket costs in each metal tier, making them easier for consumers to compare and purchase. Insurers, under the Colorado Option, are also required to lower premiums on these plans by 5% for 2023, and an additional 5% in 2024 and 2025, for a 15% total reduction. 63 of 64 counties will have access to a Colorado Option bronze plan, all counties will have access to a Colorado Option silver plan, and 63 of 64 counties will have access to a Colorado Option gold plan – all at or below the average premiums, according to DOI. With 72 Colorado Option plans in the individual market and 48 Colorado Option plans in the small employer market, consumers and employers will be able to compare apples-to-apples plans across insurers with standardized benefits, increasing competition in the market. As insurers are required to provide premium reductions in 2023 and beyond, these plans will provide more affordable, predictable coverage over time.
“We’re relieved that Colorado Option plans finally will be available next year, an important step in providing more competition in the insurance market which should start to rein in prices,” Singh said. “We’re urging all Coloradans to carefully evaluate their plan options, shop around, and look at additional financial assistance available through the federal Inflation Reduction Act and expanded state financial assistance. Hopefully, more families can get the affordable insurance and care they need.”
There are other resources to help Coloradans who struggle to afford rising health insurance costs:
Connect for Health Colorado will continue to provide financial assistance under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA); open enrollment starts on November 1st.
The Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise will provide new financial assistance for those that don’t qualify for premium tax credits under the ACA, including people without documentation.
Connect for Health Colorado will continue to provide lower copays and deductibles to lower-income Coloradans, beyond what the ACA provides