CCHI exploring ways consumers can influence rate review in future
Mon., Sept. 22, 2014
Contact: Jenny Davies-Schley, 720-296-9545
Today the Colorado Division of Insurance released finalized health insurance rates for 2015. The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) is pleased to report that consumers in the individual health insurance market will see rate increases of less than one percent this year and that consumers will continue to have access to a highly competitive marketplace.
“Colorado families will continue to have a great opportunity to shop for and compare affordable health insurance plans when open enrollment starts in mid-November,” said Adela Flores-Brennan, CCHI executive director. “We’re happy that, Colorado consumers will find a range of coverage options and prices made more affordable through financial assistance for those who qualify.”
While overall the news on rates is very positive, some consumers will experience increases in their premiums and CCHI supports Commissioner Salazar’s recommendation that consumers shop around for a plan that best meets their needs.
The rate filings show that Colorado’s health insurance market is thriving. All ten insurers in Connect for Health Colorado’s individual market are returning and several insurers are offering plans with lower premiums compared to their 2014 plans. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act is working to reduce the growth of health insurance costs in Colorado. Colorado’s Health Care Cost Report shows an average increase of 8% for premiums in the individual market from 2007 to 2012. After year one of ACA implementation, Colorado’s Division of Insurance is reporting an increase of just 0.71 percent in the individual market.
We are also happy to see that the Division of Insurance’s response to consumer concerns about the cost of health insurance in Colorado’s mountain areas appear successful at achieving rate reductions. Rates from the four insurers present in Rating Area West decreased across the board for consumers in Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield and Summit counties.
While these rates are good news, CCHI remains watchful for similar trends in the future. So far this year, Colorado saw the 5th largest drop in the uninsured rate from 17% to just 11% in one year thanks to the expansion of Medicaid and the opening of Connect for Health Colorado. At the same time, Colorado hospitals experienced a decline in charity care of 36.2% in just the first quarter of 2014. With more people having insurance and less money going toward charity care, it seems to follow that rates would begin reflecting those changes and insurers should be sharing the savings from the expansion of coverage with their policyholders.
Additionally, CCHI will continue to press to make the insurance rate review process more consumer friendly. “The fast timeline and complicated nature of rate review make it practically impossible for average Colorado consumers to weigh in on the rate review process,” said CCHI’s Adela Flores-Brennan. “We are looking at ways that the Division of Insurance could create a simpler and more transparent process for consumers to view, comment and advocate for fair rate filings.”
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative represents 50+ Colorado organizations and individual members representing more than 500,000 Colorado consumers, advocating for affordable, accessible, quality health care for all Coloradans.