How health insurance premium increases will affect Colorado

FOX21 File Photo
FOX21 File Photo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Health insurance premium costs have increased nationally over the last couple of years, but now it’s individual market costs that are seeing a steep increase.

The Colorado Health Institute says individual market prices for 2017 will rise faster than any year since 2014.

The increased rates impact about 8 percent of Coloradans – that’s nearly 450,000 people.

“What the Affordable Care Act was supposed to do was get everybody to buy insurance. And when more people buy, the way insurance works, it’s cheaper for everybody,” said Joe Hanel, senior communications expert for the CHI.

However, that’s not the case.

“People who are getting insurance in the individual market tend to be sicker than the insurance companies thought they would be when the Affordable Care Act first launched,” Hanel said.

Now fewer insurance companies are offering individual market plans, which makes for less competition and higher prices.

This means 92,000 Coloradans will have to find new insurance plans for 2017.

These price hikes are happening everywhere, and in some cases it can be higher depending on your region.

For El Paso County, the price for individual plans is between 21 and 29 percent.

Pueblo County’s rates are a little lower, between 16 and 20 percent.

But it’s even higher in Chaffee County, where it can be as high as 42 percent.

In the state overall, insurance premium costs are the highest on the western slope and rural areas.

According to the Colorado Health Institute, people in that region rely on individual market plans and use healthcare more than others in the state.

“Our uninsured rate just a few years back was hovering around 15 percent and it dropped to below 7 percent in 2015. What we’re worried about with these price increases is that we’ll either have a harder time reducing that rate from where it is or it might even go up,” Hanel said.

The Affordable Care Act offers tax credit for those people who buy health insurance coverage on state-based exchanges like Connect for Health Colorado.

Enrollment began Tuesday, November 1 and lasts until the deadline on December 15.

>> Click here to see the report by Colorado Health Institute.

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