Letter: Combating the high cost of health insurance | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Combating the high cost of health insurance

As everyone knows, the cost of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is often unaffordable to individuals and families in resort areas — in fact, we have the dubious distinction of having the highest health insurance premiums in the nation.

While it is true that health care costs more here, it is also due to the way rates are set, which currently means that there are nine major geographic zones and several smaller areas within Colorado that rates are tied to. This means people in the Front Range who depend on individual policies may be paying nearly half as much for insurance as a resident of Eagle, Summitt, Routt, Pitikin, Garfield, Lake or Gunnison counties.

There currently is a bill in front of the Colorado House Committee on health, insurance and environment to start the process of determining the feasibility of creating one geographic rating category for the entire state. This means that rates would be equal wherever one lived in the state. While premiums might go up slightly for those in the Front Range cities, they could drop drastically for the rest of the state.

The bill, HB-1366, is a starting point and is supported by the county commissioners in Eagle, Summit, Lake, Pitkin, Routt, Garfield and Gunnison counties. As a long time vocal critic of the health insurance rates imposed on residents of mountain communities, I’ve been asked to testify Thursday as to the impacts of the cost of insurance on families in the area.

I know of many middle-class families who are now uninsured after having insurance their entire life, and one individual who went medically bankrupt shortly after dropping his insurance because the rates tripled.

To demonstrate the support for reform I have put up a Web page and an online petition for people to sign supporting a change in rating areas to make health insurance rates equal for all. It is http://www.equal

rates.com and there is a link to the petition there.

I would ask everyone who is concerned about paying as much as double for health insurance in the mountain towns to sign and show their support. I will deliver the signatures to the committee on Thursday.

Chris Neuswanger