July 12, 2022
DENVER – Today, Colorado’s healthcare insurance companies proposed average increases of 11% in the individual market and 9% in the small employer market as released by the Division of Insurance. The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative expressed alarm and frustration about these proposed increases and their painful impact on most of the state’s population.
These preliminary filings are concerning as Colorado’s health insurance rates have been more stable in recent years, in part because of the state’s reinsurance program. Reinsurance has been providing significant support in keeping insurance rates approximately 23% lower than they would be, with initial DOI analysis suggesting that without reinsurance, consumers would have seen closer to a 34% increase in premiums.
However, initial filings show Colorado’s individual health insurance rates will hit some Coloradans hard in 2023, with Coloradans in Eastern and Western Colorado seeing average increases of 21% and 19.2% respectively, and most other areas seeing 5-10% increases. Health insurers and hospitals may be using inflation as an excuse to drive up rates despite maintaining, and in many cases increasing, their profits or receiving substantial payments through federal COVID relief packages.
There is a hard-won success for consumers, however, as 2023 is the first year the standardized Colorado Option plans will be offered. The Colorado Option plans will increase the competition in the market, allowing consumers to compare apples-to-apples plans across insurers with standardized benefits. The Colorado Option is bringing 42 new individual and 48 new small group plans to the market, and in almost all counties, the Colorado Option plans are cheaper than the average premium for non-Colorado Option plans. As insurers have to provide premium reductions on these plans in 2023 and future years, these plans will provide more affordable coverage that is predictable for consumers.
“Even as reinsurance keeps premiums for Coloradans down, and as we see more companies offer plans in more counties, health insurance continues to be unaffordable for too many Coloradans,” said Mannat Singh, Executive Director of CCHI. “Premium rates must be reasonable and justified; the industry shouldn’t use the ongoing pandemic or inflation to hike company profits. We will be digging into the rate filings during the public comment period, particularly for Colorado Option plans, to push back on these proposed increases and hold insurers accountable, in order to protect consumers. This very short comment period – only until August 1 – is an opportunity for consumers to speak out on the 2023 rate increases.”
Colorado consumers will see additional benefits from Senate Bill 20-215 and the Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise it created as new financial assistance becomes available for those that cannot qualify for tax credits for lower premiums under the ACA, including people without documentation. Fortunately, lower-income Coloradans will continue to have access to additional assistance through Connect for Health Colorado which lowers copays and deductibles, even further than what’s provided under the ACA. Each of these steps will help Coloradans afford the care they need.
Coloradans will continue to be able to access financial assistance through Connect for Health Colorado under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment starts on November 1st.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, membership-based group advocating for equitable access to high-quality, affordable health care. CCHI serves Coloradans whose access to health care and financial security are compromised by structural barriers, affordability, poor benefits, or unfair business practices of the health care industry.