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Obamacare insurers ask for 6% average premium increase in Colorado

Author: Kimberly Leonard, The Washington Examiner - July 13, 2018 - Updated: July 26, 2018

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How much customers pay for coverage through their Obamacare plans will vary based on whether they smoke, how old they are, where they live, and whether their annual income is less than $48,000, which would qualify them for subsidies for individual plans.
(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Health insurance companies in Colorado have asked to increase premiums by an average of 5.94 percent for 2019 in the Affordable Care Act  individual market, a milder increase than some other states, according to rate filings.

No insurers are leaving the state’s Obamacare insurance exchange, and every county will have at least one health insurer offering coverage.

The requested average premium increase for individual gold plans is 6.85 percent, and 12.3 percent for silver plans. For bronze plans, the requested average premium increase is 0.9 percent. Anthem’s filings requested a decrease in premium rates.

“I’m very pleased to see that we kept the same seven companies selling on-exchange plans,” interim state Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway said in a statement. “Last year we worked hard to keep them in Colorado and I think that work is reflected in their decisions for 2019.”

The state’s insurance regulator is expected to negotiate with the insurers over final prices, which will be announced before Obamacare’s open enrollment begins Nov. 1. The coverage offered on the exchange tends to be purchased by people who are self-employed or work for a small business that doesn’t provide coverage.

How much customers pay for coverage through their Obamacare plans will vary based on whether they smoke, how old they are, where they live, and whether their annual income is less than $48,000, which would qualify them for subsidies for individual plans.

The mild increases in premiums are a departure from other states that are expecting to see double-digit increases. Healthcare experts had warned that the Trump administration’s actions to offer plans outside Obamacare’s rules and the GOP’s tax bill, which in 2019 will eliminate the penalty for going uninsured, would contribute to the rise.

Conway pointed to the recent action by the Trump administration to end $10.4 billion in risk adjustment payments, which requires Obamacare insurers that get a certain amount of profits to pay into the program to cover insurers that have a certain amount of losses.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services decided to end the program after a federal judge decided back in February to invalidate the formula used to determine what insurers paid what.

“Decisions at the federal level continue to make life interesting,” Conway said. “But as we have in the past, we will find a solution to this most recent announcement. To that end, just this morning, I informed the insurance carriers that we will require that they account for their respective risk adjustment receivables or payables as they are reflected in the July 9, 2018, federal report. I will take any subsequent steps that are necessary to protect Coloradans and to maintain market stability.”

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.