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What is "Colorado Affordable Public Option?"
The [Public] Option represents a real opportunity to provide Coloradans more meaningful choices in their coverage options while also laying the foundation to address the high costs of health care in a meaningful and sustainable way for all Coloradans.
Across the country, citizens are facing overwhelming health insurance rates. Rural citizens living in the Western Slope and Eastern Plains of Colorado are the most impacted by high costs of health care and many rural communities only have access to one insurance provider. According to the Department of Insurance (DOI) and Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) report, “22 counties in the state have only one health insurance carrier offering individual plans” (Final Report for Colorado's Public Option, p. 8). With limited options and expensive premiums, Coloradans are frustrated and encourage legislators to make necessary changes. Colorado State Representative Dylan Roberts (District 26) states, “My district demands action on health care costs. Ever since I got here two years ago, the number one issue I've heard from my constituents is the rising cost of health care and, specifically, how much it costs per month to be insured” (KUNC). A public option health care plan through the State of Colorado will improve accessibility by offering more insurance plans and lower premiums. Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan (District 5) comments, "The public option is where we’re hoping to create that competitive marketplace. This is a bill that’s trying to respond to financial crisis in people’s households..." (Vail Daily). Coloradans deserve accessible and affordable health care which can be achieved through Colorado affordable option.
It is predicted that statewide Coloradans can save an average of 10% on health insurance and, in high-cost areas like the Western Slope, individuals could save 15% each year.
Public option will make health insurance more affordable because:
WHo Are the Plans For?
All Colorado residents who are buying their own health insurance through the individual market will be eligible to enroll for the public option plan. Once individual consumers are established in the program, it will become available in the small group market.
How Will it be Managed?
The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and the Colorado Division of Insurance (CDOI) will be tasked with setting the requirements and overseeing the public option health insurance plan.
Where Can I find these Plans?
Connect for Health Colorado will sell all public option plans in the traditional individual market. Individual consumers that already have access to federal subsidies will continue to have these benefits through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace. Connect for Health Colorado will provide insurance brokers to assist consumers in first time purchases or insurance renewals.
How Are these Plans Funded?
Fortunately, the public option ensures that Colorado taxpayers will not be paying for these health insurance plans. The public option insurance plan will be offered by private health insurance carriers and they will hold any financial risk of the plan and contract with local care providers. Insurance carriers in the individual market will be mandated to offer the public option insurance plan to increase competition and choice by ensuring there are at least two carriers in every Colorado county.
What Benefits will be Covered?
Public option health care plans will cover all essential health benefits through a standardized benefit design. Preventative care, primary care, and behavioral health care will be pre-deductible.
When Can I enroll?
Open enrollment is scheduled to start in Fall 2021 for coverage starting on January 1, 2022.
Praise for Colorado Affordable Public Option
Colorado Medical Society applauds the efforts undertaken for the public option report that is making its way to the 2020 state legislature for further debate and stakeholder input. We support the concepts of increasing competition in health insurance markets and reducing premiums for our patients while assuring access to care, value, and a physician’s ability to provide the quality care their patients need.
This final proposal for the public option plan creates an innovative opportunity for Colorado to bring more affordable health coverage to our state and start addressing underlying health care costs...This will help consumers have more certainty and proactively maintain their health without facing high out-of-pocket costs.
The plan takes an innovative approach to moving the state forward toward reducing overall health care costs and incenting the right care in the right place....CCHN is appreciative of the stakeholder engagement that DOI and HCPF sought around the state through stakeholder meetings, and the comment opportunities provided.
The strategies outlined in the final reportare designed to reduce costs by increasing efficiencies, like making use of the existing Marketplace infrastructure. We stand behind these efforts by the Division of Insurance and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. Together, we seek to improve affordability and health insurance company choice for Coloradans regardless of their income or where they live.
Hospital Prices And profits In Colorado
Hospital prices in Colorado are some of the highest across the country, both for inpatient and outpatient care. Across the state, prices for medical services can drastically range and a recent report by Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) demonstrated a "variation of more than 400 percent across Colorado for the same group of services. For example, delivering a baby in Routt County costs an average of $17,160 versus $6,000 at a Denver area hospital" (Final Report for Colorado's Public Option, p. 7). High hospital prices dramatically disadvantage rural counties in both the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains of Colorado. In fact, rural counties often only have one insurance carrier, which limits their choices and prevents competitive pricing. Colorado public option introduces more carriers to the market to create competitive and affordable prices across the state.
In THe Press
Colorado’s Democratic leadership isn’t waiting for the rest of the country to sort out where it stands on health care; it’s forging ahead with an idea to build on the Affordable Care Act at the state level.
It’s time for Colorado to forge ahead and ensure the public option becomes a reality to continue our progress toward every Coloradan being covered.
Increased competition should be good for consumer pricing...It should require private insurance to be more innovative, and force providers to look at pricing.