ICYMI: The Gazette: “A Very Costly ‘Colorado Option'”

Nov 4, 2022

DENVER – In case you missed it, The Gazette published an editorial highlighting the significant rate increases for 2023 under Colorado’s state government-controlled health insurance system, known as the Colorado Option. This unaffordable, government-controlled system, which politicians promised would make health care coverage more affordable, is failing to deliver on that promise.

The Gazette writes:

“[I]t was only a matter of time before the state government’s intervention in Colorado’s health insurance market would fall short of its goal of lowering premiums. Far short, as it turned out.

“On Tuesday, as The Gazette reported, the state released startling figures showing Colorado’s insurance premiums in fact will rise by over 10% next year in the small group health insurance market. Premiums will go up more than 7% for individual health plans.”

Traditional (non-public option) health plans are, in many cases, offering premiums that are five to 10 percent lower than competing Colorado Option plans in the small and individual markets. In addition, four prominent health coverage providers have already announced they are completely or partially pulling out of the state’s small group market, leaving Coloradans with fewer health plan options. The Gazette continues:

“The many Coloradans who obtain their household health coverage through large-group plans offered by their employers face challenges of their own, of course.

“But the picture is downright bleak for many households whose breadwinners work at small businesses that must rely on small-group plans. The same goes for those who are self-employed or whose jobs don’t come with insurance. They must turn to costly individual insurance plans.

“Not only are their premiums on average spiraling upward, but as the trade association representing Colorado’s health plans pointed out in a news release, there are now fewer carriers offering the individual and small group plans and less competition as a result.

“Several insurers including, most recently, Humana, have announced they are pulling out of all or part of Colorado’s small-group and individual insurance market.

“The state’s new ‘Colorado Option’ policy, championed and signed into law last year by Gov. Jared Polis, is a state-designed range of health plans that insurers must start offering alongside their other plans on Jan. 1. The Colorado Option plans must offer mandated, and thus costlier, types and levels of coverage.

“Ironically — but not surprisingly — some of the traditional health plans that the insurers continue to offer in the same markets are cheaper.”

The Gazette concludes:

“Many fixes are needed to make health coverage more affordable across our state. But as a doctor could have told the governor, first, do no harm.”

This failed Colorado Option experiment, sold to Coloradans on the promise of increased access to more affordable coverage, is falling far short of achieving its goal. Instead of moving forward with this new government-controlled health insurance system, policymakers should prioritize building on and improving what is currently working to help Coloradans access the affordable, high-quality health coverage and care they deserve.

  • Read the full editorial HERE.
  • Read more on Colorado’s Health Care Future HERE.