People on Colorado’s individual health insurance market could see an average premium increase of 10% next year, though less for people on Colorado Choice plans, if requested rate changes are allowed.
State Insurance Division and the office of Gov. Jared Polis Announced the asking rate changes on Thursdays. The department will consider and make a decision on the requests, and may refuse during the regulator’s review process. Open enrollment begins in November.
About 200,000 Coloradans are covered on the individual market, and about 28,000 of those market enrollees are on Colorado Choice plans (although another 12,000 people are on those plans through other means). Most Americans are covered through employer-offered plans, Medicaid and Medicare.
Health insurance companies are seeking to increase premiums by an average of 11.1% for non-Colorado Choice plans and 7.7% for Colorado Choice plans. The exact increase varies from plan to plan. Officials did not have dollar figures available Thursday but expect more detailed information on premium rates to come in October.
Colorado Choice is a series of insurance plans designed by the state, although they are provided by private companies. It is not a true public option, because the state does not provide the coverage. It mandates the provision of some low-cost and no-cost primary care and mental health services, including copays. Kyla Hoskins, deputy commissioner for affordability programs, said it’s designed to “incentivize what we believe are high-value services,” including diabetes care and prenatal and postnatal care.
The Colorado Option also allows the state to negotiate on behalf of its clients with providers and hospitals, Hoskins said. She expects the result of those negotiations, through additional savings, next October.
Vincent Plymell, a spokesman for the Insurance Division, encouraged people to look at the breadth of coverage plans offer, not just monthly premiums, to find one that best suits their needs.
“Sometimes you might go with the low-cost plan but end up spending more on out-of-pocket costs,” he said.
Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, said he was hopeful the proposed rate hike would ease by the time consumers start shopping around this fall.
“Obviously we’re concerned because, at the end of the day, consumers have to find a way to get the health coverage and care they need,” Fox said. “A 10% or 11% increase is certainly not something that is feasible for everyone, and it puts additional pressure on household budgets.”
Because of fluctuations in premiums, he encourages people to shop around as much as they can to find the best plan for them — but he noted that some don’t have that choice or would have to give up certain coverage or doctor-patient relationships as a result.
Meanwhile, the Polis administration boasted that the state’s reinsurance program, introduced in 2020, was the worst of the proposed increases. The program subsidizes high cost claims to stop them from raising premiums for the rest of the pool. The state estimates that premiums would be up to 21% higher this year without the program.
“Saving people money on health care has been our top priority since day one, and we’re starting to see these money-saving measures, from the Colorado Option to the Reinsurance program, putting money back in the pockets of hard-working Coloradoans,” Polis said in a statement. “This is an important step in our work to ensure that everyone in Colorado has access to and can afford quality health care.”
Keep up to date with Colorado Politics by signing up for our weekly newsletter, The Spot.