Uncertainty in Washington leads to volatility and spikes in 2018 premiums
DENVER – In response to the Colorado Division of Insurance’s release of initial rate filings today, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) – the state’s watchdog for health care consumers – reports that Colorado’s insurance market is being disrupted by politics in Washington. While Colorado scores ahead of all other states in our health care risk score, the chaos and uncertainty caused by Republicans in Washington means Coloradans will face volatility and spikes in the individual insurance market with proposed premium increases ranging from 12.1% to 41.2%. Small employers will see a little more stability experiencing some single and some double digit increases.
This wide range shows that insurers are grappling with the uncertainty created by the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress and administrative actions undermining the market. Yet again, rate increases will hit rural counties even harder, where Anthem is the only insurer offering plans in 14 counties and is requesting a rate increase of over 30%.
“Proposed insurance rates are often higher than the finalized rates, so we hope to see the Division of Insurance closely examine the basis for these proposed increases and reduce those rates that are not justified ,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “Nevertheless, with the ongoing chaos created by Congress and the Administration, Colorado consumers are facing painful increases in their 2018 coverage and premium prices.”
“The insurance market was stabilizing prior to the turmoil created by Republican leaders in Washington. Insurance companies like predictability and they haven’t gotten that,” said Fox.
Kaiser, with the bulk of the individual market enrollments through Connect for Health Colorado, has requested a 24.4% increase, Bright Health a 15% increase, Colorado Choice 28.9%, Rocky Mountain HMO has requested 12.1%, and Denver Health is asking for a 12.7% increase for their Elevate health insurance plans.
However, some insurers have asked for even larger increases. In addition to Anthem’s 30% requested increase, Cigna is requesting a whopping increase of 41.2%. These increases only compound the problem for Western Slope consumers who have been struggling with sky-high premiums and significant yearly increases.
“The signs that the market was stabilizing should encourage Congress to improve the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it. If the Senate bill passes, Coloradans will see tax credits decrease, seniors charged more, and more rate increases,” said CCHI’s Adam Fox. “We believe insurers should be working with providers to improve quality and keep coverage affordable by addressing the underlying health care costs instead of responding to the chaos created by Congress and this Administration.”
CCHI will study the publicly available data and release a more thorough analysis about 2018 health plan rates as more analysis and the DOI review continues.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative represents 45+ Colorado organizations and individual members representing more than 500,000 Colorado consumers, advocating for affordable, accessible, quality health care for all Coloradans.