Politicians Seek To Double Down On State Government-Controlled Health Insurance System

Feb 23, 2023

DENVER – The Colorado Option is already failing patients across our state, and now some politicians want to double down on bad policy by creating a one-size-fits-all new state government health insurance system, sometimes called a single-payer system.

The warnings from doctors, health care experts and business leaders on the consequences of the Colorado Option are already coming to fruition. The first year of the Colorado Option experiment has been a failure, as Coloradans have fewer health plan options because of decreased competition. Four prominent health insurance providers have partially or completely left the Colorado market, as well as PEAK Health Alliance, which failed to offer health plans for 2023. 

What’s more, while politicians promised increased savings from the Colorado Option, traditional health plans offer significantly more affordable premiums – five to 10 percent lower, in fact – than competing Colorado Option plans. Even in places where the Colorado Option plan is the most affordable option, consumers’ savings are minimal at best – low-single-digits to one percent. 

It’s no wonder why Axios reported that the Colorado Option drew “meager interest” in its first year, with only 1 in 10 Coloradans who shopped for a plan through the state marketplace choosing a Colorado Option plan. And as POLITICO Pro reported, public option programs in other states that are similar to Colorado’s “…aren’t working out as hoped.” 

Despite this, some politicians are intent on expanding this unaffordable, government-controlled system and examining a path towards creating a one-size-fits-all single-payer system in Colorado. 

As HB 21-1232 moved through the legislative process in 2021, Patrick Neville, then the Minority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives warned, “[The public option] scares the heck out of me. It’s not just a small step toward single-payer [health care], it’s a giant leap.”

Other states have abandoned single-payer legislation because of unaffordable costs and consequences. Just last year, a California bill that would have created the first universal health care system in the nation was pulled back by the bill’s author when it became clear it wouldn’t pass an Assembly floor vote.  

Colorado voters resoundingly rejected a single-payer health care system in 2016. Amendment 69, the Colorado Creation of ColoradoCare System Initiative, would have eliminated health insurance providers and left Coloradans with a one-size-fits-all, taxpayer-funded state government health insurance system. The ballot measure lost in overwhelming fashion – 79 percent to 21 percent. 

Rather than doubling down on this already-failing system, leaders in Denver should focus on building on and improving what is working in our current health care system and work together to expand access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care. 

Read more on Colorado’s Health Care Future HERE.