Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, Health News Colorado

“Consumer advocates say careful rate review will save Coloradans millions on health insurance next year, but they warned people to shop around and ask questions as they renew old plans or hunt for new ones starting next month.

For example, rate experts from the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative protested a proposed increase of 19 percent between 2014 and 2015 rates on a policy from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado that could affect about 21,000 consumers. State regulators questioned the hike and ultimately approved an increase of 13.9 percent year over year. While that hike is higher than increases on many other policies in Colorado from 2014 to 2015, advocates say the 5 percent savings would amount to about $4.7 million if all customers renewed — or about $220 per year for each policyholder.

“In Colorado we’ve been using rate review pretty effectively to save consumers well over $100 million over the past five or six years,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

Fox urged consumers to be very cautious before renewing plans. They should not assume that old plans are a better deal. Rates can go up on old plans and they don’t have to include the full menu of benefits now required on new plans that are sold through Colorado’s exchange, Connect for Health Colorado “Especially because so much has changed, it’s important to look at your options. You might find something that’s more affordable or better quality,” Fox said.”

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