DENVER – In response to today’s announcement by the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) granting health care insurers the 2019 rates they requested, consumer advocates warned that given recent changes to the healthcare landscape, Coloradans seeking insurance via Connect for Health Colorado need to research prices to find the most appropriate and affordable plan.
The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) – the state’s watchdog for health care consumers – reports that while some insurance rates are stabilizing, Congress and the Trump Administration have disrupted the individual insurance market that approximately 400,000 Coloradans rely on.
Health insurance will increase for customers who get their health insurance through Kaiser (+7.5 percent), Bright Health (+6.5 percent), Friday Health Plans, (+7.3 percent) Rocky Mountain HMO (+5.7 percent), Denver Health (+21.6 percent), and Cigna (+8.1 percent), with Anthem filing for slight decreases of -0.2 percent and -2.6 percent on different groups of plans.
The Trump Administration has continued its relentless attacks on the Affordable Care Act, for example halting billions of dollars of cost sharing reduction payments to insurers. These payments were used to help offset and reduce the cost of copayments and deductibles for lower and middle income consumers. This resulted in insurers charging more for silver plan customers.
Luckily, the Colorado Division of Insurance found a solution: insurers were asked to “silver-load,” a multi-level procedure that allowed insurers to price cost-sharing reductions into only silver plans sold on Connect for Health Colorado, which will lead to increasing tax credits available for any plan to offset the increasing the price of silver plans for the 40 percent of Coloradans who hold them.
The following is a statement from Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative:
“Here’s the good news: Coloradans with gold and bronze plans aren’t facing massive hikes in their health insurance premiums. Consumers that shop around this open enrollment, especially those that qualify for financial assistance, may be able to find more affordable and better plans. However, Coloradans that don’t qualify for tax credits will still face affordability challenges after big rate hikes last year.
“While insurance rates seem to have stabilized for 2019, the continued sabotage efforts in Congress, by the Trump Administration, and in the courts are still a very real threat to the individual insurance market and could undermine many of the consumer protections Coloradans support.
“This year, there will be a wide range of premium changes, from -3 percent to +22 percent in the individual insurance market, with insurers increasing rates an average 5.7 percent. These more moderate rate changes demonstrate that many insurers are now making profits in the individual market and the ACA is strong in Colorado.
“For a change, consumers on the West Slope won’t be hit by double-digit increases this year, and they’ll see Anthem asking for a small decrease in their overall rates. Even so, since Anthem requested a rate increase of over 30 percent last year, affordability is still a big concern for Coloradans in these areas. With the uncertainty in Washington and the fact we aren’t really controlling health care costs makes it hard to bring down insurance premiums for consumers.
“The most important thing for Coloradans to know is they should shop around to see if they can find a better or more affordable plan and see what kind of financial assistance they qualify for. There are still many Coloradans who think they don’t qualify for tax credits when they likely do.”
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative represents 45+ Colorado health organizations with more than 500,000 health care consumer members, advocating for high-quality, affordable, and equitable health care for all Coloradans.