Individual health premiums rising 27 percent in Colorado

Increase doesn’t apply to people who receive coverage through employer

John Ingold
The Denver Post

Coloradans who buy their health insurance on their own will see an average premium increase next year of nearly 27 percent, before taking federal tax credits into account.

The Colorado Division of Insurance announced Wednesday that it has given final approval to rates proposed by nine different insurers expecting to offer plans both on and off of the state’s insurance exchange in 2018. In some cases, regulators knocked back the originally proposed rates — such as with Cigna, where regulators and the company negotiated to drop the proposed increase from above 40 percent down to about 31 percent. In other instances, regulators urged carriers to raise their rates higher, fearing that the low-ball proposals weren’t sustainable.

The final statewide average increase — 26.7 percent — is identical to the average proposed statewide increase when insurers first filed their plans earlier this summer. Breakdowns of rate increases by county are expected to come later this month.

Although state insurance commissioner Marguerite Salazar said regulators had hoped this would be “a year of stability” as insurers found their footing, the final approved rate increases exceed the 20 percent jump approved last year. Salazar said insurers told regulators that the ongoing debate over whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act — and, essentially, change the rules for the individual market only a few years after the rules were first rewritten by the law, also known as Obamacare — led in part to the price increases. Insurers also cited more general market conditions in filings with the state justifying the proposed premiums.

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