Obamacare health insurance rates average 26.7 percent increase statewide | VailDaily.com

Obamacare health insurance rates average 26.7 percent increase statewide

Connect for Health Colorado is the state's health insurance marketplace for individual policies. The individual market — plans not obtained through an employer — makes up about 8 percent of the state population who have health insurance, around 450,000 people, according to the Division of Insurance.

EDWARDS — If you buy an individual insurance policy in Colorado, then your premium will be more than a quarter higher in 2018 than it was this year.

Colorado's Division of Insurance gave insurance companies approval to raise rates an average of 26.7 percent across Colorado, exactly what the companies asked for when filing insurance plans earlier this summer.

We won't know what that increase means for Eagle County until later this month or early October, when the Division of Insurance releases rate increases by county, said Bethe Wright, who runs Wright Insurance Co. in Eagle.

51 percent through employers

The individual market — plans not obtained through an employer — makes up about 8 percent of the state population who have health insurance, around 450,000 people, according to the Division of Insurance.

At least 51 percent of Coloradans get their insurance through an employer.

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Vail Health executives say they're working hard to keep costs down.

"Vail Health has held its increases to less than 2.8 percent a year for the last five years. We're as frustrated with this as everyone else," said Michael Holton, vice president of marketing and communications for Vail Health.

'a nonpartisan issue'

Holton said Vail Health works to control those costs, but insurance companies might not always pass those savings along to consumers.

State insurance commissioner Marguerite Salazar said uncertainty from the federal government contributed to some of the insurance rate increases.

"Affordable health insurance is truly a nonpartisan issue, and these rate increases keep me up at night. While a re-insurance program can have a dramatic effect on rates, I have to stress that time is of the essence," Salazar said.

Wright said price increases for individual policies could send people into small-group policies, which will see a single-digit rate increase.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60 percent of Coloradans receive tax credits to help pay for premiums when they buy insurance on the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado. Those tax credits increase along with the premiums to help offset the cost.

tax credits

In 2016, for example, insurance premiums across the country increased by about $30 a month. However, people paid $4 more a month when they were able to use tax credits to buy individual plans.

Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican who represents most of Colorado's Western Slope, urged his Senate colleagues to replace Obamacare. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner also blamed Obamacare for the sharp increase in premiums, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, urged bipartisan action on health care moving forward.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Insurance cost increases

Price increases for individual plans sold on Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange:

• Cigna: 30.9 percent

• Anthem: 30.2 percent

• Friday Health Plans: 29.7 percent

• Bright Health: 27.4 percent

• Kaiser Permanente: 24.4 percent

• Denver Health Medical Plan: 12.7 percent

• Rocky Mountain Health Plans: 11.5 percent

Price increases for plans sold off of the exchange

• Anthem: 33.5 percent

• Freedom Life Insurance Co. of America: 27.1 percent

Open enrollment around the corner

After much debate, the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, remains the law of the land. As such, Connect for Health Colorado, Colorado’s individual health insurance marketplace, continues to serve as the go-to resource for Coloradans to purchase health insurance and get financial help to reduce costs. The next open enrollment period is Nov. 1 to Jan. 12. This is the time to enroll in health insurance for 2018, unless you have a qualifying life change event such as getting married. Coloradans can apply for Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) throughout the year.

Source: Connect for Health Colorado

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