DENVER – Despite the looming court challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and threat to Coloradans’ health in the midst of a pandemic, Colorado’s individual health insurance rates continue to show general stability. Today, Colorado’s health insurance companies’ initial premium changes were released by the Division of Insurance showing the success of Colorado’s reinsurance program that is keeping rates an average 17 percent lower than they would be. However, even with reinsurance, insurance carriers are wanting to increase rates an average 2.2 percent. Coloradans will see increased choices with the number of counties with only one insurance company offering plans on the individual market shrinking from 22 to 10.
Unfortunately, rates are going up in some regions and for some carriers. The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative will be examining the rate increases to ensure they are clearly justified and that insurers are not taking advantage of COVID-19 as an excuse to increase rates.
Senate Bill 20-215 is helping consumers in the individual market by extending the reinsurance program with sustainable funding and will help more Coloradans left out of coverage find affordable options in years to come.
“We’re seeing the efforts of health advocates and lawmakers to help protect Coloradans from larger rate increases,” said Adam Fox, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative director of strategic engagement. “This is thanks to a long-term funding solution to continue our reinsurance program and expand affordable options for Coloradans. Unfortunately, we still see rates increasing in most areas and 10 Colorado counties that will only have one insurance carrier offering plans. That really demonstrates the need for continued innovation with a public option for coverage.”
Colorado will see a range of average geographic rate changes in the individual market, from a decrease of 1.6 percent in Colorado Springs to a 9.3 percent increase in the Pueblo area. By insurance carrier, rate changes vary from Friday Health Plans decreasing rates an average 12.2 percent to a Cigna increase of 8.3 percent. Without reinsurance, all areas of Colorado would be seeing rate increases averaging 17 percent.
“It is especially important because of COVID-19 that we make sure these premiums are clearly justified and ensure Coloradans have access to the most affordable health coverage possible,” said Fox. “Unfortunately, Colorado’s health system innovation and our ability to keep rates under control could all be upended by the Supreme Court that could strip coverage from hundreds of thousands of Coloradans in the middle of this pandemic through the Texas court challenge.”
Before COVID-19, the ACA helped some 600,000 Coloradans gain health coverage. With more Coloradans out of work and losing their health insurance, many more Coloradans are already or will be relying on coverage through the ACA, increasing the threat of the Supreme Court case.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that represents 40+ Colorado health organizations with more than 500,000 health care consumers advocating for equitable access to high-quality, affordable health care. In 2018, CCHI received the “Get Wise” Consumer Protection award from the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).