by Adam Fox, Membership Coordinator
Colorado took a big step toward a competitive health insurance marketplace this week. Colorado’s Division of Insurance (DOI) began releasing information Wednesday on the insurance plans filed to be sold on Connect for Health Colorado, Colorado’s new online marketplace (formerly Colorado Health Benefit Exchange), and on plans to be sold in the general market.
The initial information is looking positive for consumers. A whopping 813 plans were submitted by 17 insurance carriers for both the general market and Connect for Health Colorado. For the new marketplace, 11 health insurance carriers submitted approximately 250 plans, 10 carriers filed about 150 plans for individuals and families, and 6 carriers filed almost 100 plans to be sold to small employers.
This is a big win for Colorado consumers. The number of carriers stepping into the ring to compete and sell their products in Connect for Health Colorado will ensure robust competition among insurers, and should put pressure on insurers to keep health insurance costs down. Colorado consumers will have increased choice and transparency through Connect for Health Colorado when selecting an insurance plan through the online insurance marketplace that opens for enrollment on October 1st. Plans sold in Connect for Health Colorado, as well as in the general market, will also provide better coverage than before, as each plan is required to meet basic standards of coverage in 10 different categories (often referred to as essential health benefits).
The big question, though, is what is health insurance going to cost in this new marketplace. These health plans are new products in a new market, and DOI has indicated that the insurance rates vary significantly depending on the value of the plan. We don’t yet have a clear picture of what the premiums will cost consumers. What we do know is that many Coloradans using Connect for Health Colorado will be eligible for immediate premium tax subsidies that will make health insurance more affordable for families between 133-400% of the Federal Poverty Level (about $30,000-80,000 for a household of 4). It also falls on insurers to prove that the rates on these new plans are justified. All of these new plans have to be reviewed by DOI to verify that each insurer is not taking advantage of consumers and that the plans meet the new essential health benefits requirements.
While it’s still too early to say much on these insurance rate filings, the bell for round 1 has been rung, and things are looking positive for consumers as long as there are tools to filter their plan options sufficiently. Ultimately, being able to compare plans effectively and find the best health insurance option will ensure that Coloradans can see their doctor when they need to, without unpredictable costs. Getting the care we need when we need it is not too much to ask, and Colorado is moving closer to this common sense goal as we prepare for increased choice, competition, and hopefully, affordability through Connect for Health Colorado.
Expect more information in the coming days and happy Memorial Day weekend!