Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal

Individual-market health-insurance premiums will increase by an average of 26.7 percent next year — a slightly smaller hike than that originally forecast by the Colorado Division of Insurance.

Still, some health-care advocates are blaming President Donald Trumpand the Republican Congress for causing the hike due to uncertainty over the future of health-care reform.

Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar on Tuesday announced approval of most of the rate hikes that had been requested by Colorado health insurers, though at least one came at a lower rate than the company had sought. She said also that small-business health-insurance premiums would rise an average of 6.6 percent, also a smaller hike than the average 7.5 percent boost sought originally by insurers.

Premium increases for individuals who do not receive health insurance from their employers — a group comprised of about 450,000 individuals, many of them who work as independent contractors or one-person companies — range from a 33.5 percent rate boost by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado for its plans that are not sold on the Connect for Health Colorado exchange, to an 11.5 percent jump in Rocky Mountain Health Plans offerings.

The Anthem hike is particularly noteworthy because it is the only insurer offering plans in 14 largely Western Slope counties that already have some of the highest individual insurance rates in the country.

“Affordable health insurance is truly a non-partisan issue, and these rates keep me up at night,” Salazar said.

The average premium increase was down slightly from the 27 percent average increase sought by insurers that submitted plan requests this spring. Salazar blocked the highest average hike request — a 41.2 percent hike sought by Cigna — and allowed just a 30.9 percent boost in costs to customers.

However, she also mandated that Bright Health raise its average premium costs from a 15 percent hike to a 27.4 percent hike to ensure the insurer’s solvency, noted the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative watchdog group. 

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