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Individual market health insurance rates stay stable as Eagle County adds plans

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October 25, 2021, 9:38 am
Vail Health hospital in Vail.

Last week, Colorado’s Division of Insurance released finalized health insurance rates for 2022. Individual market premiums will increase 1.1% while small group (businesses with 2-100 employees) market premiums will increase 4.4%.

In a press release, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI), a health care advocacy group, expressed relief and cautious optimism over the rate increases. According to CCHI deputy director Adam Fox, the announced rate increases show consumers will see largely stabilized health insurance rates moving forward.

“The combination of stabilized health insurance rates and the increased financial assistance through the American Rescue Plan means many Coloradans will be able to find better deals than they have before on their insurance coverage this year,” Fox said. “With the uncertainty of the pandemic, the general stability of individual market health insurance rates is a good thing for Coloradans.”

Fox praised the health care policies in Colorado for keeping rates relatively stable and for increasing access across the state.

In 2022, 63 of 64 Colorado counties will have multiple insurance companies offering plans, with Jackson County the lone exception. Eagle County will have Anthem, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and possibly Friday Health after only offering ACA-compliant Anthem plans on the local individual market the last two years following the departure of Kaiser. In 2021 there were 10 counties with only one carrier. Local policymakers have lauded reinsurance legislation passed in 2019 for keeping runaway Western Slope rates in check the last two years.

“We are seeing state policy efforts benefit Coloradans year after year as reinsurance keeps premiums down and companies have gradually expanded into those counties that only had one insurance company offering plans,” Fox said. “Despite more stability in the individual market, and with only somewhat larger increases in the small employer market, we know health insurance is still unaffordable for too many Coloradans. That’s why we’re working to implement the Colorado Option to bring more affordable and equitable health insurance plans to Colorado families and small businesses starting in 2023.”

Colorado’s reinsurance program will allow Coloradans to save an average of 24% on premiums next year, according to a press release from Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO). Funding for reinsurance partially came from a bill passed in 2020 which created a Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise.

The enterprise also provides more access to health insurance for lower-income Coloradans (affecting around 50,000 consumers) by lowering deductibles and copays further than what’s provided under the Affordable Care Act.

Colorado’s open enrollment period runs Nov. 1, 2021, through Jan. 15, 2022.

“It’s important for Coloradans to shop during this open enrollment period as there’s more assistance available to lower their premiums and out-of-pocket costs this year than before,” said Fox.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared last week on the Colorado Times Recorder.

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