Health insurers balk at price demands in Colorado governor’s signature health insurance program

In new regulatory filings, insurers say they cannot lower prices enough to meet the Colorado Option’s goals

John Ingold
The Colorado Sun

Preparing to enter its second year, one of Gov. Jared Polis’ signature health care policies is now facing significant questions raised by insurers about its sustainability.

The dispute has to do with a health insurance program called the Colorado Option. The Colorado Option is a first-of-its-kind, state-designed insurance plan that private insurance companies are required to sell to people who buy health insurance on their own or to small companies buying insurance for their employees. It aims to offer better benefits at lower prices.

But new rate filings raise the question of whether insurers will be able to pull off that feat — and who is to blame if they can’t.

A setback for the Colorado Option would be a blow for Polis, who frequently celebrates the program as one of his administration’s major policy achievements.

The issue is this: State law requires Colorado Option plans to be sold at progressively lower rates for the first three years. In 2023, the first year the Colorado Option was sold, plans had to be priced 5% below an insurer’s 2021 offerings, after adjusting for inflation. For 2024, plans need to be 10% below 2021 rates.


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