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What You Pay for Health Insurance: Groups Analyze CO Rates

PHOTO: The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and CoPIRG submitted a petition of more than 700 signatures to Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar, left. It asks the Division of Insurance to more closely scrutinize insurance companies' rate filings to protect consumers. Photo courtesy CCHI
PHOTO: The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and CoPIRG submitted a petition of more than 700 signatures to Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar, left. It asks the Division of Insurance to more closely scrutinize insurance companies' rate filings to protect consumers. Photo courtesy CCHI
July 28, 2014

DENVER - The glass is either half empty or half full with Colorado health insurance rates, depending on the type of coverage.

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative just completed an analysis of the 2015 insurance rates filed with the state's Division of Insurance. While some Coloradans are paying less in part because of the increased competition created by the health-insurance marketplace, other insurers are asking to charge more, said Adam Fox, CCHI's director of strategic engagenent.

"We are seeing competition drive some of the insurance costs down for some insurers," Fox said, "but there's still insurers that are increasing some of their plan-specific rates."

This is the eighth year CCHI has analyzed rate filings. Their review pinpoints questionable rate hikes, and also challenges the insurance industry's predictions that people they cover won't be as healthy in 2015, since those with the highest health needs are likely to have gotten coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

A common driver in health-insurance premiums is the cost of uncompensated care for uninsured patients. In some cases, Fox said, the 2015 rates fail to consider the 300,000 additional Coloradans who now have health insurance.

"They seem to not really be accounting for how the reduction in uncompensated care in hospitals is going to potentially lower their cost burdens," Fox said.

According to the Colorado Hospital Association, the amount of uncompensated care has been reduced by more than 30 percent in the past year. Some insurance companies also are predicting prescription drug cost increases of as much as 21 percent, when CCHI says costs increased slightly less than 4 percent last year.

More information about the analysis is online at cohealthinitiative.org and cha.com.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - CO