Colorado health insurance rates may go up 27 percent next year

Uncertainty about Affordable Care Act driving changes

Keywords: Health, Newsletter,
An employee of Connect For Health Colorado, the state’s health care exchange, explains options and procedures to a walk in client signing up for insurance in 2014. Enlargephoto

Brennan Linsley/Associated Press file

An employee of Connect For Health Colorado, the state’s health care exchange, explains options and procedures to a walk in client signing up for insurance in 2014.

DENVER – Coloradans shopping for health insurance on the private market could see eye-popping rate increases averaging 27 percent next year, the state Division of Insurance announced Friday.

Insurance officials blame the increase on federal uncertainty about what is going to happen to the Affordable Care Act.

“The dubious situation at the Federal level has contributed to the premium increase requests we’ve seen from the companies.” Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar said in a statement.

Health insurers are asking to be able to charge customers in the individual market nearly 27 percent more on average in premiums next year.

The increase does not represent what every Colorado who purchases insurance on the individual market will pay but rather an amalgamation of plans for all ages across the entire state.

Businesses purchasing small market plans for their employees will also see premiums increase by 7.46 percent.

The Division of Insurance must still review and approve the requests.

“Remember that these are only what the companies have requested and are not the final premiums,” Salazar said. “The companies must justify their premiums to the Division of Insurance, and our staff will review those justifications over the summer.”

The price increases would affect a relatively small percentage of Coloradans. No more than 8 percent of people in the state shop for health insurance plans on their own.

But prices in the individual market have taken on outsized political significance in debates about the Affordable Care Act because they are one of that law’s most visible measurements of success or failure.

For that reason, the 2018 premium prices have been the subject of anticipation for months.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, has blamed the Affordable Care Act for increases in premiums. Salazar, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, said earlier this year that Republican health care maneuvering at the federal level could cause massive premium spikes.

Salazar doubled down her criticism Friday.

“It remains pivotal that the Trump administration stops using people’s access to health care as a bargaining chip and commits to funding the cost-sharing reductions in 2018,” she said.

Herald Staff Writer Luke Perkins contributed to this report.