CCHI reports Coloradans should expect challenges and opportunity in 2017 coverage
Contact: Adam Fox, 303-563-9108
DENVER – In response to the Colorado Division of Insurance’s release of initial rate filings, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) – the state’s watchdog for health care consumers – reports that overall Colorado is looking at larger increases in insurance rates in the individual market. Small employers are looking at a more stable market with mostly single digit rate changes and some insurers proposing to decrease their rates, like Aetna by -3.6% and -4.4% for their PPO and HMO plans respectively.
“It’s important to remember that proposed insurance rates are often higher than the finalized rates, so we do expect some proposed rate increases to be cut back after review by the Division of Insurance,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “Nevertheless, some of the proposed increases negatively impact the affordability and availability of coverage overall, especially in some areas of the state where the number of plans and carriers are limited.”
Kaiser, with the bulk of the individual market enrollments through Connect for Health Colorado, is still likely to be the lowest cost option in areas where they offer coverage with a proposed increase of 13.6%. Denver Health is asking for a very modest increase of .08%, but that pertains only to Denver residents with Elevate health insurance plans, and Cigna is proposing a 9.5% increase in their rates.
However, some insurers have asked for rather large increases. Rocky Mountain Health Plans has filed for another 34.6% rate increase and are contracting the coverage area of their plans, potentially a real problem for Western Slope consumers who have already been struggling with very high health insurance premiums and significant yearly increases. Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield has filed for a 26.8% increase, Colorado Choice for a 36.3% increase, and Golden Rule, a subsidiary of United Healthcare, has filed for a whopping 40.6%.
One hopeful development in Colorado’s market is the entry of Bright Health, a new insurer who will be offering coverage through Connect for Health Colorado. This may help keep Colorado’s market more competitive in some areas, like Summit County, even though Humana and United – relatively minor players in private insurance coverage – exited the individual marketplace.
“The good news for individuals who qualify for financial assistance through Connect for Health Colorado is they’ll see little impact, as the tax credits will offset an increase in their premiums,” said CCHI’s Adam Fox. “But we believe insurers should be working with providers to improve quality and keep coverage affordable by addressing the underlying health care costs, not just going through the motions of increasing their rates.”
CCHI will study the publicly available data and release a more thorough analysis about 2017 health plan rates as more analysis and the DOI review continues.
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.