Thurs., June 23, 2022
Contact: Katie Reinisch, 303-653-1009, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Fox, 303-563-9108, email@example.com
DENVER – Today the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative celebrates the approval of a federal waiver that allows the Colorado Option as approved by the legislature (HB21-1232) to move full steam ahead. The approval of Colorado’s Section 1332 Innovation Waiver Amendment means that millions of dollars will be reinvested in making health insurance more affordable for Coloradans who have previously been left out. This will enable Coloradans to save money on health care when housing and other rising costs are an increasing concern.
Through the Colorado Option, Colorado is requiring insurance carriers to meet premium reductions of 15% from 2023 to 2025 (5% each year) and control costs thereafter based on medical inflation. The amended waiver adds to Colorado’s existing reinsurance waiver, which already saves Coloradans hundreds of dollars in premiums, and will draw down federal savings from the lower premiums required by the Colorado Option legislation. The savings Colorado can draw down through the waiver will bring $12-13 million in year one to Colorado’s Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise, and will grow to an estimated $147 million in 2027.
Coloradans who enroll through Connect for Health Colorado and those that have not had access to the ACA – including those living without documentation, many of them people of color – will have access to standardized plans with more benefits upfront at no additional cost this open enrollment period, which starts in November.
“This waiver is a vital component to Colorado’s efforts to expand health coverage and make it more affordable for all people living in Colorado,” said Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “Colorado will be able to take the savings we are creating through the Colorado Option to make health coverage more affordable and accessible for those that haven’t been able to afford coverage or have been left out because of their documentation status. This waiver will lead to millions of dollars to help Coloradans get covered for their health and financial wellbeing.”
The Colorado Option requires insurance carriers to offer standardized plans (in the individual and small group markets) that are designed to improve racial and health equity. These plans have been designed through an extensive stakeholder process and are required to offer more primary, behavioral, and perinatal care with no cost-sharing, while also providing more predictable costs for Coloradans through copays for things like prescription drugs and other services. Colorado Option plans will also provide more benefits to patients living with diabetes at low or no additional cost.
Colorado’s Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise is already helping roughly 24,000 Coloradans by making it more affordable to access care with coverage through Connect for Health Colorado. Beginning in 2023, there will be financial assistance to Coloradans living without documentation and those that fall into the “family glitch.” These populations are a significant portion of Colorado’s remaining uninsured population. We know that these Coloradans – who are integral parts of our communities – experience health disparities at high rates, are overwhelmingly people of color, and rarely access health care services because they cannot afford coverage or care.
“From previous polls, we know that the majority of Coloradans also see inequity and systemic racism as creating barriers for some people in the healthcare system,” Fox continued. “Six in 10 think everyone should have access to affordable coverage regardless of their immigration status. This waiver is a game-changer and can help fulfill our goals in Colorado to create health equity.”
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, membership-based group advocating for equitable access to high-quality, affordable health care. CCHI serves Coloradans whose access to health care and financial security are compromised by structural barriers, affordability, poor benefits, or unfair business practices of the health care industry.