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A number of health insurance companies are proposing rate increases for their health insurance plans offered in Colorado for 2016, according to an initial analysis of health insurance plan data provided by the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI). All rates have to be approved by the DOI before they will be finalized in early September.
“Before any rate increase is approved, these companies ought to prove they are doing everything they can to lower costs – and not by cutting care and raising deductibles, but by cutting waste and helping Coloradans stay healthier,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation Director. “The Division of Insurance needs to put these plans under a microscope.”
An initial analysis of the data found a number of insurance companies proposed double digit increases for some of their plans. The company with the largest average rate increase appears to be Rocky Mountain at 34.4% followed by Colorado Access at 26.6% and Colorado HealthOP at 21.6%. The only company with an average decrease in costs appears to be Cigna at -5.1%. A summary of United’s average rate increases was unavailable as they proposed to file new plans for 2016.
The CoPIRG Foundation urges the Colorado Division of Insurance to scrutinize the new rate proposals and not approve any increases that cannot be justified. Colorado gave the Division of Insurance the power to disapprove rates if they are inadequate, excessive, or unfairly discriminatory. Colorado’s Division of Insurance used this authority to save consumers $5 million in last year’s rate review process.
“Health insurance companies can lower costs by cutting administrative waste, driving a hard bargain with hospitals on prices, paying doctors to keep people healthy rather than to order expensive treatments, and passing on those savings to customers,” said Katz. “Unfortunately, too often, they just keep raising rates and out-of-pocket costs for consumers.”
If approved, the new rates and plan changes would go into effect in January 2016. Consumers have the right to comment on any rate increases with the Division of Insurance before July 6th, 2015. Consumers can comment through the CoPIRG Foundation website or can send comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to:
Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies
Division of Insurance
Rates & Forms Section
1560 Broadway, Suite 850
Denver, CO 80202
Many low and middle-income Coloradans who purchase insurance through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace will be eligible for advanced premium tax credits based on income. For example, in 2015, 54% of the enrollees in Connect for Health Colorado qualified for financial assistance to reduce their monthly costs and the average tax credit was $229 per month.
“Coloradans need the Division of Insurance to stand up for consumers and make every insurance company prove their rates are justified,” said Katz.
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