Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, Health News Colorado

Consumer advocates are challenging proposed health insurance rate hikes that could hit western Colorado residents especially hard, with a 49 percent increase proposed for one plan there.

Rate experts with the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative filed comments this week, calling on regulators at the Colorado Division of Insurance to carefully scrutinize proposed 2016 rates from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, which has proposed a 34.4 percent increase overall; the Colorado HealthOP, which is asking for hikes of nearly 22 percent; and Humana, which has proposed exchange plan hikes of 15 percent.

Health Policy Analyst Matt Valeta of the Consumer Health Initiative called on state regulators to be sure that insurers are not passing unnecessary costs on to consumers. He also said some carriers like Rocky Mountain are seeking to raise rates, while keeping unnecessarily high reserves and are failing to be fully transparent about their rates.

Consumer advocates want state regulators to hold insurance companies more accountable by requiring public hearings to allow consumers to ask insurers questions about price hikes, requiring reports from carriers on how they are trying to hold down costs and improve quality, and giving consumers plenty of warning about price increases prior to open enrollment to avoid “unpleasant surprises.”

“We would be hopeful that they’re taking a hard look (at proposed rates),” said Adela Flores-Brennan, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

Read the full article here.

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