By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4) – Health insurance rates could increase by the highest amount in Colorado since the individual marketplace opened under Obamacare.
Friday the Division of Insurance for Colorado released preliminary rates for both Small Group and Individual Medical Plans.
The average increase for individual plans is around a 27 percent increase. (Learn more on Colorado.gov.)
“Nothing has yet changed at the federal level so we have to continue to work with the ACA as law,” said Vincent Plymell with the Colorado Division of Insurance. “These are preliminary; we’re going to spend the next few months reviewing these. The finals to be released in September or October.”
Experts who study health care policy say that the Colorado mountain areas have some of the highest rates on the individual marketplace in the country. The double-digit increase statewide was expected but not at this level. The increase is being blamed on Washington politics and prescription drug prices.
“It did take me by surprise how big the rate increases were,” said Joe Hanel with the Colorado Health Institute. (Learn more at coloradohealthinstitute.org.)
“There’s all this uncertainty that all this funding they’re counting on is going to come through for one, and also what this whole system is even going to look like in a couple of years.”
The Division of Insurance is accepting public comment on the rates through Aug. 4. Plymell says the state will continue working toward locking the rates in in the fall, but admitted Federal policy could change all of it.
“If things change at the Federal level, the insurance companies have told us, ‘Hey, we will reevaluate.’ If they don’t fund the cautionary reductions. If they repeal the ACA we’re going to reevaluate if we’re going to play in 2018 or not.”
Hanel says rates for even private insurance will remain high until politicians start to tackle more issues around health care.
“We’re not talking about why is the price so high in the first place, why does it cost so much more to have the exact same procedure here than in another country? As long as we’re just arguing over who’s picking up the check, then we’re not getting at the root cause of it,” Hanel said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.