Colorado to study why health insurance prices vary by region |

Colorado to study why health insurance prices vary by region

David Olinger
The Denver Post

20,000 Coloradans affected by insurers pulling out of exchange

A little over 20,000 people in Colorado will be affected by the decision of UnitedHealth and Humana to exit the individual market and the state’s health insurance exchange.

“It’s not too much a blow to the system,” said Vincent Plymell, communications manager for the Colorado Division of Insurance.

The exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, is the marketplace for consumer buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The decisions by the insurers will impact 9,914 people who use UnitedHealth and 9,914 people who use Humana, the division said in a news release. About 420,000 people bought their health insurance in the individual plan market in 2015, both on and off the exchange, according to a survey by the Colorado Health Institute, the release added.

For 2017, UnitedHealth, along with most of its subsidiaries, is discontinuing its participation in the individual market in Colorado, both on and off the exchange. Golden Rule Insurance, one subsidiary of UnitedHealth, will continue to offer its individual plans in Colorado off of the exchange. UnitedHealth will continue its small and large group business in the state.

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High-country residents who pay high prices for health insurance are seeing a glimmer of hope for relief.

Colorado legislators approved a bill to study whether the entire state should be treated as a single geographic district for health-insurance policy purposes. Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign it today.

The creation of a statewide district probably would mean modest increases for health insurance in Colorado’s largest metropolitan area, where prices are relatively low.

But it could yield a big drop in lightly populated mountain counties, where people pay some of the highest health insurance prices in the United States.

In Glenwood Springs, some advocates of a single district say their insurance premiums rival their mortgage payments.

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