SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Four Western Slope counties have the highest insurance rates in the country, and time is running out for thousands of Coloradans there who are trying to get less expensive health care.
Some say it’s discrimination, and now the state may change it.
“We’re at a breaking point here in the high country where doing nothing is not acceptable to us,” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs.
For many in Summit, Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties Connect for Health Colorado — Colorado’s health insurance marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act — exposed how expensive health insurance is.
“In many cases our health insurance is 100 percent more than what you would find in other parts of the state,” said Gibbs.
Many say the area — which is titled Region 11 — was set up with bad math and that local residents are being punished with high rates because their local hospitals are used by tourists.
“When we can only offer most of our workforce catastrophic plans, we are under-insuring our workforce,” said
State Sen. Gail Schwartz, who represents the area.
On Friday the state said they would look into new regions.
“With more people in a particular area we’re hoping we can decrease the cost for the folks in the mountain region. So with more people in the pool it will be cheaper health insurance for the people in this region,” said Gibbs.
The state is taking public comment on the proposal to eliminate Region 11 only through Wednesday.
Gibbs says it will be up to the head of the state’s insurance department, Marguerite Salazar, to change the regions and get that submitted by the end of the week for federal approval.
If in place, the high cost plans could be gone at the end of the year.