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Colorado health insurance exchange

2015 rates increase less than 1%

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  • By
  • healthinsurance.org contributor
  • September 25, 2014

Colorado saw a six-point drop in its uninsured rate from 2013 to mid-2014 according to Gallup. That timeframe coincides with a successful open enrollment period on Connect for Health Colorado, which saw more than 300,000 Coloradans enroll in either private insurance or Medicaid.

Connect for Health Colorado is looking forward to another successful year, with the next open enrollment period starting on Nov. 15.

2014 enrollment above expectations

Connect for Health Colorado, the state-run health insurance exchange, far exceeded the qualified health plan (QHP) enrollment target of 92,000 set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Connect for Health Colorado announced more than 129,000 people had signed up for QHPs as of April 23. Through special enrollment periods, QHP enrollment grew to 137,000 as mid-2014. In addition, nearly 182,000 people have qualified for the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Only 60 percent of those Coloradans who purchased private insurance qualified for assistance to offset the cost. Nationally, 85 percent qualified for financial assistance. Colorado’s relatively low rate of financial assistance and the high premiums in some areas of the state explain why 40 percent of plans sold in Colorado are bronze plans compared to 20 percent nationally.

2015 rates

Regions of Colorado had some of the nation’s highest premiums through the marketplace in 2014, so it’s very welcome news that average increases for individual plans is just .71 percent. For 2015, the state Department of Insurance created larger and fewer geographic regions used in establishing rates. This action helped moderate — and even decrease —rates in some regions.

According to the state Department of Insurance, 12 insurers will offer 176 individual/family options through Connect for Health Colorado. Two of the 12 are multi-state plans.

2015 budget

The Connect for Health board approved a $66.4 million budget for the fiscal year running from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The budget includes a $1.25 per-member-per-month assessment on insurance carriers, which officials say will allow the marketplace to maintain an operating reserve of $13 million. The assessment applies to all policies, not just those sold through the marketplace. According to Health News Colorado, the 2015 budget includes:

  •  $29.5 million for technology
  •  $13.6 million for the customer service center
  •  $7 million for salaries, legal and accounting fees, and travel
  •  $6 million for the assistance network
  •  $4.8 million for marketing, communication and outreach
  •  $2.3 million for consulting and operations

Background on Colorado’s exchange

Gov. John Hickenlooper informed the federal government in October 2012 that Colorado intended to run its own health insurance marketplace, and the state received federal approval of its plan in December 2012.

Unlike politicians in most other states, Colorado legislators voted on a bipartisan basis to move ahead with a state-run exchange. Legislation to establish the state marketplace passed in May 2011 and was signed by Hickenlooper in June 2011. In early 2013, marketplace was given the brand name “Connect for Health Colorado.”

Colorado’s marketplace is governed by a 12-member board and led by interim CEO Gary Drews. Drews replaces Patty Fontneau, who took a position with CIGNA.

Colorado health insurance exchange links

Connect for Health Colorado
855-PLANS-4-YOU (855-752-6749)

State Exchange Profile: Colorado
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Colorado’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.