Colorado’s Health Care Future Statement on Cancellation of Colorado Option Carrier Hearings

Jun 23, 2023

DENVER, June 23, 2023 — Colorado’s Health Care Future issued the following statement today after the Colorado Division of Insurance cancelled the last of the Colorado Public Option carrier hearings that were previously scheduled to take place over the summer: 

“The decision to cancel the Colorado Public Option hearings is yet another clear indicator that the Colorado Option law is failing.

“There is nothing the hearings could have achieved to reduce costs or health insurance premiums given the flaws inherent in the Colorado state government mandates. The hearings would have been ineffective because insurers and providers had already achieved the statutory minimum reimbursement rates independent of the law to ensure access to high-quality care for patients.

“Meanwhile, traditional, non-Colorado Option health plans are still the most affordable plan offerings for most of Colorado. Nine out of ten Coloradans who shopped for individual coverage rejected the Colorado Option and instead chose traditional plans that provide value to meet their personal needs. All of which is proof that insurers and care providers were already delivering affordability and value, despite the Colorado Option law, not because of it.

“It’s not necessarily surprising that the Division of Insurance and the State of Colorado ultimately preferred to avoid a series of public hearings that would repeatedly confirm these facts.

“While cancelling the hearings is a good first step, it’s time for the Division of Insurance and the State of Colorado to acknowledge what the Colorado Option experiment has confirmed: government rate-setting and price controls do not work. Instead of forcing Colorado insurers and care providers to invest significant time and resources toward compliance with the law’s unachievable mandates, we encourage the State to find ways to support the efforts of insurers and care providers to deliver even greater affordability and value for Colorado patients and families.” 

Additional hearings background:

The Colorado Option law allows the Division of Insurance to set hospital reimbursement rates. In many cases, however, the rates in the law are higher than the rates that health plans negotiated with hospitals before the public option law.

There is no action that the Division of Insurance could have ordered through the hearings because insurers and providers had already achieved the statutory minimum reimbursement rates independent of the law. 

A recent analysis by NovaRest, an independent actuarial consulting firm with extensive experience supporting state and federal insurance regulators, highlighted how the Colorado Option has fallen short on the promise to save Coloradans money on their health care. The actuarial analysis demonstrates how this state government-controlled health insurance system is increasing costs for Coloradans, reducing competition in the state’s health insurance market, and driving health care provider shortages that threaten access to care for patients. 

Read NovaRest’s actuarial analysis on the Colorado Public Option here.

Read more about Colorado’s Health Care Future here.