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DOI Approves Hefty Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Ouch! Health insurance prices are going up in Colorado, by an average of 20 percent for individual plans. (Pixabay)
Ouch! Health insurance prices are going up in Colorado, by an average of 20 percent for individual plans. (Pixabay)
September 21, 2016

DENVER - Health insurance prices are going up again, and increases are even higher for individuals than they were last year - by 20 percent on average - according to plans approved Tuesday by the Colorado Division of Insurance.

Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, said residents will have an opportunity to make their voices heard on the rate hikes at a public forum in Denver next week.

"That's a great opportunity for consumers to really weigh in and get involved," he said, "and also put a little bit of pressure on the Division of Insurance - to say, 'Hey, this is getting out of control for us, and we need to do more to control these costs.' "

Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar cited the recent EpiPen scandal as an example of why costs are going up, with drug companies leaning on insurers to pad profits. Fox said it's time for the industry to do its part by proactively negotiating lower prescription drug prices and other health costs.

Several insurers submitted plans with critical information redacted, Fox said. Anthem, for example, cited a nearly 19 percent increase in drug prices - more than double the historical trend - but only the DOI could see the company's justifications. He said a more transparent process would help consumers understand and challenge key assumptions the companies are making.

"It's important for the public to have access to the vast majority of that information," he said, "so that the public can take a look for themselves and kind of verify whether these rate increases are really justified."

Fox said higher premiums are likely to hit hardest in the state's 14 counties with only one insurance carrier. He also encouraged people to shop carefully to pick the right plan at the best possible price. He added that many Coloradans will be eligible for financial assistance, and some could see their share of premiums go down.

The DOI's final plans are online at colorado.gov.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO