health insurance

Coloradans who buy their own health insurance or received it from a small business could save on average 24.1% on individual premiums for 2022, according to an announcement today by Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera.

The Polis administration released final, approved health insurance plans and premium data for 2022 on Wednesday during a visit to Silverthorne.

The savings will come through the state's reinsurance program, authorized through legislation by the 2019 Colorado General Assembly. A 2020 bill restructured the program's financing. 

Reinsurance, which required the state to obtain a federal waiver, helps health insurance companies with high-cost insurance claims. The savings are then passed on to consumers. The reinsurance program is authorized by the Biden administration through 2026. 

The program is paid for by levying fees on hospitals and health insurance companies: 1.15% on premiums collected for nonprofit carriers and 2.1% on for-profit carriers, and based on premiums collected on health benefits plans in the preceding calendar year. Hospitals collectively will pay $20 million in 2022 and 2023 to the program.  Hospitals are prohibited from passing on those costs to consumers. The money is then redistributed to pay for high-cost claims.

For the 2021 plan year, the reinsurance program was projected to save Coloradans an average of 21% on health insurance premiums in the individual and small group (2-100 employees) market. 

The Polis administration said the average savings for 2022 will be higher in rural Colorado. In Summit County, savings could reach 36.5% and 36% in Grand Junction.

“We are so proud to be in Summit County announcing our bipartisan reinsurance program will save families and individuals even more money on their health insurance next year while delivering quality care,” Polis said in Silverthorne. “Coloradans in rural, suburban, and urban communities are tired of paying too much for health care and our reinsurance program delivers real relief and real savings for small businesses and people who don’t get their insurance through their employer.”

Primavera added that “Colorado’s reinsurance program has been, and will continue to be, an incredibly powerful tool in helping people save money on health care."

But the savings don't mean that insurance premiums are going to go down. Those who buy individual plans will see an increase on average of 1.1%, but there will be more options from which consumers can choose, from 326 plans in 2021 to 527 for the 2022 plan year.

In the small group market, premiums are expected to increase on average by 4.4%.

Companies offering health insurance plans in the small group and individual market are Anthem, Bright Health, Cigna Health, Denver Health, Friday Health, Kaiser, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and Oscar Insurance Company. Jackson County will be the only county with one insurer, down from 10 counties a year ago.

In 2022, for the first time, low-income Coloradans should be able to find additional financial assistance to pay for health insurance premiums, through the fees levied in the 2020 reinsurance bill. According to the state Division of Insurance, those with incomes between 1.5 and 2 times the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) — meaning an annual income between $19,320 and $25,760 for a household of one, or between $39,750 and $53,000 for a family of four — will be able to get help to lower costs when receiving care, such as co-pays, coinsurance and deductibles. The additional support is offered through Colorado’s Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise. That funding is expected to help more than 50,000 existing and new enrollees in individual insurance. People can take advantage of this opportunity by enrolling for 2022 coverage through Connect for Health Colorado and choosing a silver-level plan, according to DOI.

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