DENVER – Colorado’s health insurance companies’ final premium changes released by the Division of Insurance show the success of Colorado’s reinsurance program that is leading to slight decreases in rates (1.4 percent decrease on average) in the individual market. While some consumers will see more choices as the number of counties with only one insurance carrier offering plans on the individual market is shrinking from 22 to 10, Coloradans in those 10 counties still face some of the highest premiums for health coverage. Small employer plans continue to tick up with average increases of 3.8 percent statewide. All of this is happening in the midst of the COVID-19 public health crisis when many Coloradans are struggling and the looming court challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) threatens to strip coverage from thousands.
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. Without reinsurance, Coloradans would be seeing rate increases averaging 20.8 percent higher statewide.
“We’re seeing the efforts of health advocates and lawmakers help protect Coloradans from rate increases thanks to long-term funding for reinsurance,” said Adam Fox, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative Deputy Director. “Unfortunately, some carriers are still increasing rates in some areas, and any rate increase during this public health crisis is too much for many Coloradans who are already struggling. Ten Colorado counties continue to only have one insurance carrier offering plans in the individual market. We must continue our leadership as a state and build a more affordable state option for coverage.”
Rate changes vary significantly depending on the region of the state and the insurance carrier, and Coloradans should review the plan options in their area to get the best deal. For instance, Friday Health Plans is proposing a rate decrease of 13.4 percent in Colorado Springs, while Anthem (HMO Colorado) is proposing an increase of 11.8 percent in the eastern rating region.
“COVID-19 really highlights the need for more affordable health coverage,” said Fox. “We’ve staved off larger rate increases, but now is the time to move forward with a public option designed to lower costs and meet Coloradans’ needs. This is especially true with the Supreme Court case that could strip coverage from hundreds of thousands of Coloradans if it strikes down the ACA.”
Under the ACA, Coloradans that have lost health insurance coverage due to COVID-19 should qualify for a special open enrollment period of 60 days to enroll in coverage through Connect for Health Colorado and may qualify for financial assistance to lower the costs of coverage. Coloradans can also see if they qualify for and enroll in coverage through Health First Colorado (Medicaid) at any time.
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 Connect for Health Colorado and Health First Colorado, 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).