CoPIRG Foundation Calls for Scrutiny of 2015 Health Insurance Rate Proposals

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Six Companies Increase Average Rates, Three Companies Propose Decrease

CoPIRG Foundation

A number of health insurance companies are proposing rate increases for their health insurance plans offered in Colorado for 2015, according to an initial analysis of health insurance plan data provided by the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) yesterday. All rates have to be approved by the DOI before they will be finalized in early September.

“Before any rate increase is approved, these companies ought to prove they are doing everything they can to lower costs – and not by cutting care and raising deductibles, but by cutting waste and helping Coloradans stay healthier,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation Director. “The Division of Insurance needs to put these plans under a microscope.”

An Initial analysis of the data found some insurance companies proposed increases while other proposed decreases in their 2015 plans. The company with the largest average rate increase appears to be Denver Health at 17.5% followed by Kaiser Permanente at 7% and Colorado Choice at 6.6%. The company with the largest average decrease appears to be New Health Ventures down 22% followed by Colorado HealthOP down 9.6% and HMO Colorado down 5.1%.  

“Colorado has been successful in enrolling tens of thousands of Coloradans through our new insurance marketplace, and it’s important to ensure insurers that are increasing their rates are not taking advantage of consumers,” said Adam Fox, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative’s Director of Strategic Engagement.“In 2012 alone, Colorado insurers had to return nearly 27 million dollars to Coloradans because they did not spend at least 80% of premiums on actual health care.”
The CoPIRG Foundation and Colorado Consumer Health Initiative urge the Colorado Division of Insurance to scrutinize the new rate proposals and not approve any increases that cannot be justified. Colorado gave the Division of Insurance the power to disapprove rates if they are inadequate, excessive, or unfairly discriminatory. Colorado’s Division of Insurance used this authority to save consumers $25 million in 2011.

“It’s good to see some companies are proposing to reduce rates for their Colorado customers. Health insurance companies can lower costs by cutting administrative waste, driving a hard bargain with hospitals on prices, paying doctors to keep people healthy rather than to order expensive treatments, and passing on those savings to customers,” said Katz. “Unfortunately, too often, they just keep raising rates and out-of-pocket costs for consumers.”

If approved, the new rates and plan changes would go into effect in January 2015.Consumers have the right to comment on any rate increases with the Division of Insurance. Consumers can comment through the CoPIRG Foundation website or can send comments mailed to:

Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies
Division of Insurance
Rates & Forms Section
1560 Broadway, Suite 850
Denver, CO 80202

Many low and middle-income Coloradans who purchase insurance through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace will be eligible for advanced premium tax credits based on income. For example, in 2014, 59% of the enrollees in Connect for Health Colorado qualified for advanced premium tax credits to reduce their monthly costs and the average tax credit was $248 per month.

“Coloradans need the Division of Insurance to stand up for consumers and make every insurance company prove their rates are justified,” said Katz.